PROTA homepage Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Record display


Penianthus longifolius Miers

Protologue
Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. ser. 3, 13: 124 (1864).
Family
Menispermaceae
Chromosome number
2n = 26
Vernacular names
Ovoung grandes feuilles (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Penianthus longifolius occurs in tropical Africa, from Nigeria and Cameroon south to Cabinda (Angola) and east to eastern DR Congo.
Uses
Throughout its distribution area, Penianthus longifolius is used as an aphrodisiac, the root and root bark being considered especially powerful. To cure sexual weakness, pulverized root is taken with Aframomum melegueta (Roscoe) K.Schum., a ripe banana in palm oil or pineapple wine, according to taste. A piece of fresh root may be chewed for the same purpose. Pulverized and macerated root, alone or with sugar-cane juice, is taken as an emetic, anthelmintic and against colic. Root gratings or powdered bark mixed with water, or sometimes leaf pulp are applied as a dressing to mature abscesses and moistened root is applied on infected wounds and nails affected by whitlow. Root sap or bark sap is used as ear drops to cure purulent ear troubles and deafness. In DR Congo pounded leaves are inserted into the ears to cure otitis. Root sap is also taken to treat coughs.
Bark sap is also widely used as an ingredient of arrow poisons for several kinds of game. Root bark ground with palm oil is applied to feet as a dressing to fight sand fleas. The leaves are eaten to treat hernia.
In Gabon and DR Congo the stem of Penianthus longifolius is used to make arrows and the leathery leaves are used as arrow-feathers, whereas the root is an important component of several arrow poisons. In Congo the root is sometimes used to lure fish into fish traps. The very hard wood is occasionally used as timber.
Production and international trade
Dried bark and roots of Penianthus longifolius are sold in local markets throughout its area of distribution.
Properties
Although Penianthus longifolius has many medicinal uses, its chemical and pharmaceutical properties have hardly been investigated. The aqueous leaf extract contains carbohydrates, proteins, tannins, saponins, alkaloids, steroidal aglycones and glycosides. The root and stem contain up to 1% alkaloids, the leaves only traces.
The aqueous leaf extract has shown a purgative effect on guinea-pig ileum in vitro.
Adulterations and substitutes
Other species of Penianthus are also widely used for similar medicinal purposes, especially as an aphrodisiac and for local treatment of infections.
Description
Dioecious shrub or small tree, up to 3(–4.5) m tall, sparsely branched, glabrous except the flowers. Leaves arranged spirally, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 3.5–12 (–24) cm long, more or less angular, shallowly grooved lengthwise, swollen at both ends; blade obovate to elliptical or oblong-elliptical, 15–34(–40) cm × 6–15(–18) cm, base rounded to cuneate, apex long-acuminate, leathery, pinnately veined with 8–12(–16) pairs of looping lateral veins. Inflorescence a 10–15-flowered, globose head, borne on branches; peduncle 4–11(–17) mm long, enlarging in fruit, short-hairy; bracts up to 1 mm long. Flowers unisexual, regular; male flowers sessile, tepals 6–7(–8), in 2 whorls of 3(–4) tepals each, outer tepals triangular to oblong, 0.7–2.5(–3.5) mm long, short-hairy outside, inner tepals oblong to obovate, (1.5–)2–3(–3.5) mm long, stamens (3–)5–6, in 2 whorls, erect, 1.5–2(–3) mm long; female flowers sessile or with pedicel up to 4 mm long, enlarging in fruit, tepals 4–7, in 1–2 whorls, triangular to oblong or circular, glabrous, outer tepals, when present, c. 1.5 mm long, inner tepals 2–3 mm long, staminodes 6(–7), in 2 whorls, flattened, ellipsoid to circular or club-shaped, up to 1 mm long, ovary superior, consisting of 3 densely short-hairy carpels 1.5–2 mm × 1–1.5 mm, stigma 2-fid, strongly lobed. Fruit composed of 1–3 drupes, each drupe ellipsoid, (1.5–)2–3(–3.5) cm × 1–2 cm, leathery, nearly glabrous, yellowish orange to orange at maturity, 1-seeded. Seed ellipsoid, 2–2.5 cm long. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Other botanical information
Penianthus comprises 4 species and is restricted to humid tropical Africa.
Ecology
Penianthus longifolius occurs in the understorey of rainforest, on riversides and in gallery forest, often in deep shade of high forest, up to 1000 m altitude. It also occurs on fallow land and in secondary forest. In Cameroon it is sometimes a weed in plantations. The plant thrives under a moist equatorial climate, with a mean minimum temperature of 20°C and a mean maximum temperature of 29°C. The mean annual rainfall in its area of distribution is about 1800 mm. The soil ranges from sandy to rocky.
Propagation and planting
Penianthus longifolius is only propagated by stones. For planting, scarification of the stone probably promotes germination, as is the case for Penianthus zenkeri (Engl.) Diels. The seeds are then sown in polythene bags or in seed beds.
Management
Penianthus longifolius is rarely cultivated. In Cameroon it is usually weeded when found in crop fields.
Harvesting
The leaves and bark are collected from the plant when needed and the roots are dug up, usually after rain.
Handling after harvest
The collected material is dried in the sun and kept in wrappers or pounded, powdered and made in balls for later use.
Genetic resources
Penianthus longifolius is fairly common in its distribution area, but in Nigeria it is reported as threatened due to overexploitation for medicinal purposes.
Prospects
So far, no attempts have been made to cultivate Penianthus longifolius for medicinal purposes. As the plant is widely used, it is recommended that local communities be encouraged to plant Penianthus longifolius in home gardens. Very few studies have been done on the chemical compounds or the pharmacological activities of Penianthus longifolius, and there is an urgent need to carry out such studies. The conservation status also needs attention.
Major references
• Akah, P.A., Nwafor, S.V., Okoli, C.O. & Ngwoke, K.G., 2001. Purgative activity of the aqueous leaf extract of Penianthus longifolius Miers. Journal of Natural Remedies 1(1): 45–48.
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Dekker, A.J.F.M., 1983. A revision of the genera Penianthus Miers and Sphenocentrum Pierre (Menispermaceae) of West and Central Africa. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 53(1–2): 17–66.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 1996. African ethnobotany: poisons and drugs. Chapman & Hall, London, United Kingdom. 941 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Oliver-Bever, B., 1986. Medicinal plants in tropical West Africa. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, United Kingdom. 375 pp.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
• Troupin, G., 1951. Menispermaceae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 2. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 202–255.
• Troupin, G., 1962. Monographie des Menispermaceae africaines. Mémoires in-8. Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer, Classe des Sciences Naturelles et Médicales, Nouvelle série 8(2), Brussels, Belgium. 313 pp.
Other references
• Adjanohoun, E.J., Ahyi, A.M.R., Aké Assi, L., Baniakina, J., Chibon, P., Cusset, G., Doulou, V., Enzanza, A., Eymé, J., Goudoté, E., Keita, A., Mbemba, C., Mollet, J., Moutsamboté, J.-M., Mpati, J. & Sita, P. (Editors), 1988. Médecine traditionnelle et pharmacopée - Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques en République Populaire du Congo. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 606 pp.
• Amponsah, K., Crensil, O.R., Odamtten, G.T. & Ofusohene-Djan, W., 2002. Manual for the propagation and cultivation of medicinal plants of Ghana. Aburi botanical garden, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana. 32 pp.
• Dalziel, J.M., 1937. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 612 pp.
• de Wet, H., 2005. An ethnobotanical and chemotaxonomic study of South African Menispermaceae. PhD thesis, Faculty of Science, University of Johannesburg, Johannesburg, South Africa. 450 pp.
• Kimpouni, V., 1999. A preliminary market survey of non-wood forest products traded in the Pointe-Noire markets (Congo-Brazzaville). In: Sunderland, T.C.H., Clark, L.E. & Vantomme, P. (Editors). The non-wood forest products of central Africa: current research issues and prospects for conservation development. FAO, Rome, Italy. pp. 222–228.
• Pauwels, L., 1993. Nzayilu N’ti: guide des arbres et arbustes de la région de Kinshasa Brazzaville. Scripta Botanica Belgica. Volume 4. Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise, Belgium. 495 pp.
• Sarumi, M.B., Ladipo, D.O., Denton, L., Olopade, E.O., Badaru, K. & Ughasoro, C., 1996. Nigeria: country report to the FAO international technical conference on plant genetic resources. FAO, Ibadan, Nigeria. 108 pp.
• Terashima, H. & Ichikawa, M., 2003. A comparative ethnobotany of the Mbuti and Efe hunter-gatherers in the Ituri forest, Democratic Republic of Congo. African Study Monographs 24(1–2): 1–168.
• Vergiat, A.M., 1970. Plantes magiques et médicinales des féticheurs de l’Oubangui (Région de Bangui). Journal d’Agriculture Tropicale et de Botanique Appliquée 17: 295–339.
Sources of illustration
• Dekker, A.J.F.M., 1983. A revision of the genera Penianthus Miers and Sphenocentrum Pierre (Menispermaceae) of West and Central Africa. Bulletin du Jardin Botanique National de Belgique 53(1–2): 17–66.
• Troupin, G., 1962. Monographie des Menispermaceae africaines. Mémoires in-8. Académie Royale des Sciences d’Outre-Mer, Classe des Sciences Naturelles et Médicales, Nouvelle série 8(2), Brussels, Belgium. 313 pp.
Author(s)
D.M. Mosango
c/o Laboratory of Natural Sciences, Lycée Français Jean Monnet de Bruxelles (LFB), Avenue du Lycée Français 9, 1180 Brussels, Belgium


Editors
G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
A. Gurib-Fakim
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius
Associate editors
C.H. Bosch
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
M.S.J. Simmonds
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, Surrey TW9 3AB, United Kingdom
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
General editors
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
Photo editor
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Mosango, D.M., 2008. Penianthus longifolius Miers. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild


1, branch with male inflorescences; 2, infructescence.
Redrawn and adapted by Iskak Syamsudin



fruiting branch


fruiting branch