Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Bull. Mens. Soc. Linn. Paris 1: 611 (1886).
Origin and geographic distribution
Paropsia brazzeana occurs from Cameroon and the Central African Republic south to Angola, the Caprivi strip of Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
In Congo a bark decoction is used as a vapour bath and leaf sap is drunk to treat rheumatism, whereas leaf pulp is rubbed on the painful area. In DR Congo a root-bark decoction is taken orally to treat amoebic dysentery. In Zimbabwe a root extract is taken orally to treat gonorrhoea and it is also used as a mouthwash to treat toothache. The fruit juice is taken to treat headache and is used as nose drops to cure infections in the nose.
An aqueous root-bark extract of Paropsia brazzeana showed significant antibacterial, anti-amoebic and antispasmodic activities. The plant contains flavones, tannins, saponins and hydrocyanic acid.
Many-stemmed shrub up to 4 m tall; stem up to 5 cm in diameter; young branches brownish hairy. Leaves alternate, more or less in 2 rows, simple; stipules soon falling; petiole thick, (3–)5–7 mm long; blade oblong-elliptical to ovate-oblong, (3–)6–10(–13) cm × (1.5–)2.5–6(–7.5) cm, base broadly cuneate to rounded, apex acute to acuminate, margin with acute teeth, leathery, glandular, initially softly brownish hairy on both surfaces, glabrescent above when older. Inflorescence an axillary fascicle, 1–3(–5)-flowered; bracts c. 2 mm long, ovate. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; pedicel up to 5 mm long, brownish hairy; sepals oblong, 10–12 mm × (3–)4–5 mm, greenish white, brownish hairy outside, minutely hairy inside; petals oblong, narrower than the sepals but with the same length, white, hairy outside; corona consisting of c. 3 mm long threads arranged in 5 bundles fused at the base, glabrous below and hairy towards the apex; stamens exserted, filaments c. 5 mm long, anthers c. 2 mm long; ovary superior, rusty-hairy, styles usually 3, c. 1 mm long. Fruit a globose to ovoid capsule 1.5–2 cm × 1–2 cm, rusty hairy, 6–7-seeded. Seeds ovoid, c. 8 mm × 4 mm, compressed, brown with gelatinous orange aril.
Paropsia comprises 12 species, 5 of which occur in mainland tropical Africa, 6 in Madagascar and 1 in South-East Asia.
Paropsia brazzeana occurs in woodland, fringing forest, gallery forest and secondary forest, and thickets on sandy or clay soils up to 1100(–1600) m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Paropsia brazzeana is widespread and there are no indications that it is threatened by genetic erosion.
Paropsia brazzeana has shown antibacterial, anti-amoebic and antispasmodic activities, but more research is needed to assess the chemical compounds and pharmacological possibilities.
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Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2007. Paropsia brazzeana Baill. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.