Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2
Verh. Bot. Vereins Prov. Brandenburg 30: 265 (1888).
Asclepiadaceae (APG: Apocynaceae)
2n = 22
Origin and geographic distribution
Orthanthera albida occurs in southern Angola and Namibia.
In Namibia a decoction of crushed seeds is taken by the Topnaar people to treat kidney diseases and backache. A decoction of the stems or roots or chewing the stems or roots relieves stomach-ache.
The root is added to beer to improve its flavour. The flowers and fruits are sometimes eaten as a snack while of the older fruits only the inner part is eaten after removal of the peel and the seeds. Stems are also chewed to clean the teeth. Flowering stems are browsed by goats and donkeys.
Erect, much-branched shrub up to 1 m tall; stems pale grey, glaucous. Leaves opposite, simple and entire, often reduced to scales or absent during flowering; petiole short; stipules absent; blade linear, 3–50 mm × 1–2 mm, apex acute, sharp. Inflorescence an axillary pseudo-umbel, 4–6-flowered; peduncle slender, c. 2 mm long, white-hairy. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, almost sessile; calyx with lanceolate lobes c. 2 mm long; corolla with tube c. 5 mm long, slightly inflated below, lobes linear, 2.5–3 mm long, spreading, apple green inside, greyish outside, short-hairy inside, strongly scented; corona lobes 0.5 mm long; stamens in staminal column, pointed; ovary superior, style shorter than anthers. Fruit a pair of follicles, each one fusiform, up to 10 cm × 1–2.5 cm, green and blackish marbled, tapering into a long beak, many-seeded. Seeds brown, with a coma of whitish hairs.
Orthanthera comprises 5 species, all in tropical Africa.
Orthanthera albida grows semi-desert areas, near streams, in rocky, stony or sandy soils, at 300–800 m altitude. Annual rainfall is up to 400 mm.
Genetic resources and breeding
Orthanthera albida is not considered threatened in Namibia and probably not in danger of genetic erosion.
Orthanthera albida will probably remain of minor importance as a medicinal plant.
• Brown, N.E., 1902–1904. Asclepiadaceae. In: Thiselton-Dyer, W.T. (Editor). Flora of tropical Africa. Volume 4(1). Lovell Reeve & Co, London, United Kingdom. pp. 231–503.
• SEPASAL, 2009. Orthanthera albida. [Internet] Survey of Economic Plants for Arid and Semi-Arid Lands (SEPASAL) database. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. http://www.kew.org/ ceb/sepasal/. Accessed May 2009.
• Van den Eynden, V., Vernemmen, P. & Van Damme, P., 1992. The ethnobotany of the Topnaar. University of Gent, Belgium. 145 pp.
• Huber, H., 1967. Asclepiadaceae. Prodromus einer Flora von Südwestafrika. No 114. J. Cramer, Germany. 71 pp.
• Van Damme, P. & Van den Eynden, V., 2000. Succulent and xerophytic plants used by the Topnaar of Namibia. Haseltonia 7: 53–62.
Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2010. Orthanthera albida Schinz. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
obtained from Asclepidarium
obtained from Asclepidarium