Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes mιdicinales 1
Fl. W. trop. Afr. 1(1): 74 (1927).
2n = 26
Penianthus zenkeri auct. non (Engl.) Diels.
Origin and geographic distribution
Penianthus patulinervis occurs from Sierra Leone east to Ghana. It is occasionally cultivated in Cτte dIvoire.
The root, bark and twigs of Penianthus patulinervis are used to prepare aphrodisiac potions, whereas roots and twigs are also chewed or sucked for this purpose. The root bark applied as an enema is also a sexual stimulant. Roots and twigs are used in decoction to treat infections and venereal diseases, and are chewed for dental care. Twigs are chewed to treat cough. In Cτte dIvoire the leaf pulp is applied to the nails to treat whitlow. In Ghana a dressing prepared from the bark or root shavings is applied to heal wounds, abscesses and boils.
From the stems and roots the alkaloid berberine, the protoberberine alkaloids dehydrodiscretine, jatrorrhizine, palmatine and pseudopalmatine, and the aporphine alkaloid magnoflorine were isolated, several of which have shown pharmacological properties. Other alkaloids identified include menispermine and feruloyltyramine. Berberine has been tested in animal models for activity in the treatment of diabetes, cardiac arrhythmia, leukaemia and in prostate cancer cell lines. Jatrorrhizine has antiplasmodial activity. The plant is also rich in terpenoids, including the triterpenes β-amyrin and 2α,3β-dihydroxyolean-12-ene, the sterol 20-hydroxyecdysone, and the diterpenes columbin, isocolumbin and peniankerine.
Dioecious, evergreen, small shrub up to 1(2) m tall, usually with a single stem, glabrous except flowers. Leaves arranged spirally, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 16.5(8.5) cm long, channelled above, swollen at both ends; blade elliptical to oblanceolate, 1523(32) cm Χ 410(13) cm, base cuneate, apex long-acuminate, thinly leathery, pinnately veined with 915 pairs of looping lateral veins. Inflorescence a 37-flowered, globose head, borne on the stems; peduncle 3.510 mm long, enlarging in fruit, short-hairy; bracts tiny. Flowers unisexual, regular; male flowers sessile, tepals in 3 whorls of 34, outer ones triangular to oblong, 0.52 mm long, short-hairy outside, tepals of inner whorls oblong to obovate, (1)1.53.5(4) mm long, tepaloid staminodes 6(8) in 2 whorls, c. 2 mm long, each more or less enveloping a stamen, stamens 36(7) in 2 whorls, 2.54.5 mm long, spreading; female flowers with pedicel c. 0.5 mm long, enlarging in fruit, tepals 8, more or less in 3 whorls, 2 outer ones narrowly triangular, c. 1 mm long, short-hairy outside, inner tepals oblong to obovate, 1.52.5 mm long, tepaloid staminodes 6 in 2 whorls, widely triangular, c. 1.5 mm long, stamen-like staminodes club-shaped, c. 0.5 mm long, ovary superior, consisting of 3 glabrous carpels, stigma large, sessile, bifid, each half 2-lobed. Fruit composed of 13 drupes, each drupe obovoid to ellipsoid, 23.5(4) cm Χ 11.5 mm, glabrous, yellow to orange or red at maturity, 1-seeded. Seed ovoid to ellipsoid, 22.5(3) cm long. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Penianthus comprises 4 species and is restricted to humid tropical Africa. Penianthus patulinervis was formerly included in Penianthus zenkeri, but their areas of distribution and morphology are clearly separate; the former occurs in West Africa, the latter in eastern Nigeria and Central Africa. Penianthus patulinervis has fewer-flowered heads, almost sessile flowers and shorter petioles than Penianthus zenkeri.
Penianthus patulinervis occurs in dense rainforest, also in secondary forest, from sea-level up to 200 m altitude. It is often found on sandy soil and in humid or marshy places.
Propagation is by stones; scarifying the stone promotes germination.
Genetic resources and breeding
Penianthus patulinervis has a fairly wide distribution and there are no immediate threats to its genetic diversity, although continuing habitat destruction is a cause of concern.
The widespread use of Penianthus species, including Penianthus patulinervis, and their chemical properties call for more pharmacological research. Domestication and commercial production are recommended as demand is high and natural stands will continue to decline.
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Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2008. Penianthus patulinervis Hutch. & Dalziel. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes mιdicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.