Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist. ser. 3. 18: 22 (1866).
Stephania laetificata (Miers) Benth. (1867).
Origin and geographic distribution
Perichasma laetificata occurs from south-eastern Nigeria east to Uganda and south to DR Congo and Angola.
In Congo the leaf sap is applied to scarifications made in the forehead to cure very severe migraine. A maceration of the leaves is drunk to treat snakebites and a piece of stem is tied round the ankle to prevent snakebites. Stems are also made into girdles and bracelets for ankles and wrists for infants to assist them in walking. In the Central African Republic water with local salt in which leaves have been crushed is given to babies against constipation.
The roots are considered edible.
Dioecious liana with slender, ribbed, woody stem up to 5 m long, with stiff brown hairs and a tuberous rhizome. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules absent; petiole stout, 9–12 cm long, ribbed, base swollen and twisted; blade peltate, petiole inserted 4–4.5 cm from the base, ovate, 12.5–22 cm × 13–16 cm, base rounded, apex acute, margin wavy, papery, hairy below, glabrous above, palmately veined with (8–)9 veins, the 5 central ones most prominent. Inflorescence a large, much-branched, axillary panicle up to 50 cm long, 4 or more together, hairy or glabrous; female inflorescence smaller than male one, up to 20 cm long; bracts c. 2 mm long, long-hairy. Flowers unisexual; pedicel 1–1.5 mm long, thick; male flowers with 6 sepals in 2 whorls, free, obovate, inner ones 1.5–2 mm long, apex obtuse, with 1 prominent vein, petals 3, free, angular obovate, c. 0.5 mm long, apex rounded, with 1 prominent vein, stamens 6, merged into a staminal column up to 0.5 mm long; female flowers with 3 ovate to obovate sepals 1–1.5 mm long, hairy outside, petals 3, almost kidney-shaped, 0.5–1 mm × c. 0.5 mm, ovary superior, ovoid, up to 1 mm long, hairy to glabrous. Fruit an almost globose yellow drupe, 8–12 mm × 7–9 mm, hairy when immature, later glabrous, with 2 ridges, 1-seeded. Seed 6–9 mm long.
Perichasma comprises 2 species, both in tropical Africa. It is closely related to Stephania and differs mainly in its vegetative characters.
Perichasma laetificata occurs in rainforest, fringing forest, fallow fields and clearings, from sea-level up to 900 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Because Perichasma laetificata is widespread and also occurs in secondary vegetation, there are no indications that it is in danger of genetic erosion.
Too little is known about the uses and properties of Perichasma laetificata to assess its potential or prospects.
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Correct citation of this article:
Oyen, L.P.A., 2008. Perichasma laetificata Miers. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.