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Penianthus patulinervis Hutch. & Dalziel

Fl. W. trop. Afr. 1(1): 74 (1927).
Chromosome number
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 d’Ivoire.
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 d’Ivoire 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 1–6.5(–8.5) cm long, channelled above, swollen at both ends; blade elliptical to oblanceolate, 15–23(–32) cm Χ 4–10(–13) cm, base cuneate, apex long-acuminate, thinly leathery, pinnately veined with 9–15 pairs of looping lateral veins. Inflorescence a 3–7-flowered, globose head, borne on the stems; peduncle 3.5–10 mm long, enlarging in fruit, short-hairy; bracts tiny. Flowers unisexual, regular; male flowers sessile, tepals in 3 whorls of 3–4, outer ones triangular to oblong, 0.5–2 mm long, short-hairy outside, tepals of inner whorls oblong to obovate, (1–)1.5–3.5(–4) mm long, tepaloid staminodes 6(–8) in 2 whorls, c. 2 mm long, each more or less enveloping a stamen, stamens 3–6(–7) in 2 whorls, 2.5–4.5 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, 1.5–2.5 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 1–3 drupes, each drupe obovoid to ellipsoid, 2–3.5(–4) cm Χ 1–1.5 mm, glabrous, yellow to orange or red at maturity, 1-seeded. Seed ovoid to ellipsoid, 2–2.5(–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.
Major references
• Achenbach, H. & Hemrich, H., 1991. . Constituents of tropical medicinal-plants .42. Clerodane-type diterpenes and other constituents of Penianthus zenkeri. Phytochemistry 30(6): 1957–1962.
• 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.
• Cheek, M., Pollard, B.J., Darbyshire, L., Onana, J.M. & Wild. C. (Editors), 2004. The Plants of Kupe, Mwanenguba and the Bakossi Mountains: a conservation checklist - with introductory chapters on the physical environment, vegetation, endemics, invasives, phytogeography and refugia, ethnobotany, bryophytes, the macrofungi, the vertebrate fauna, the protected areas system, sacred groves and IUCN Red Data species. Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 508 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.
• Keay, R.W.J. & Troupin, G., 1954. Menispermaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 1. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 66–77.
Other references
• 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.
• 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.
• Duah, F.K., Owusu, P.D., Knapp, J.E., Slatkin, D.J. & Schiff, P.L.jr, 1981. Constituents of West African plants. 29. Quaternary alkaloids of Heptacyclum zenkeri. Planta Medica 42: 275–278.
• Duah, F.K., Owusu, P.D., Slatkin, D.J. & Schiff, P.L.jr, 1983. Dehydrodiscretine, an infrequently occurring quaternary protoberberine alkaloid from Heptacyclum zenkeri. Phytochemistry 22(1): 321–322.
• Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
• Kryn, J.M. & Fobes, E.W., 1959. The woods of Liberia. Report 2159. USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, Madison, Wisconsin, United States. 147 pp.
• Tane, P., Wabo, H.K., Ayafor, J.F. & Sterner, O., 1997. Peniankerine, an 18-norclerodane diterpenoid from the stem bark of Penianthus zenkeri. Phytochemistry 46(1): 165–167.
• L.P.A. Oyen
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

• 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, Rιduit, 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

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.