PROTA homepage Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
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Pleiocarpa mutica Benth.

Protologue
Hook.f., Icon. pl. 12: 71, t. 1181 (1876).
Family
Apocynaceae
Chromosome number
2n = 22
Vernacular names
Arbre huileux (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pleiocarpa mutica occurs in West and Central Africa, from Sierra Leone to Ghana, and from eastern Nigeria to Gabon. It has been collected once in northern Congo.
Uses
In Sierra Leone, ground bark is rubbed on the body against fever. People from the Agni tribe in Côte d’Ivoire drink a decoction of the grated bark to treat stomach pains, and a similar preparation is used by people of the Ebrié tribe against oedema of the legs. A decoction of the root bark is used against kidney diseases and malaria. In Ghana the roots are taken in decoction as a febrifuge, antimalarial and to treat jaundice and convulsions. The ground bark in palm wine is taken as a laxative.
The wood is used to make combs, canoe paddles, pestles, weaving shuttles, plane-blocks, hooks for hunting nets and various other small objects.
Production and international trade
Products from Pleiocarpa mutica are not traded internationally, but are a valuable commodity at local markets.
Properties
A number of indole alkaloids have been isolated from the roots and bark of Pleiocarpa mutica. The roots contain pleiocarpine (pleiocine), kopsinine, pleiocarpamine, eburnamine (desacetylpicraline) and the dimeric pleiomutinine. These 5 alkaloids were tested against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro but only pleiomutinine was found to have significant activity, although at a lower level than the standard drug chloroquine diphosphate. Pleiocarpine was inactive against malaria parasites in vitro, but moderately active in vivo against Plasmodium berghei in mice. The methanolic root extract showed no toxicity in the brine shrimp lethality test.
Kopsinine has hepatoprotective activity against CCl4-toxicity in mice, and it was found to shorten the barbital-induced sleeping time in mice. Eburnamine shows some sympathomimetic properties and a strong and lasting hypotensive action. Other alkaloids isolated from the bark are eburnamonine and the dimeric pleiocarpinine (pleiocinine) and pleiomutine. Eburnamonine has the same pharmacological effect as strychnine and is useful as a cerebrovascular agent. It is a stimulant of the central nervous system, and seems to have a positive effect on the general blood circulation.
The wood is hard, heavy, close-grained, tough and yellow.
Adulterations and substitutes
Leaves of Ageratum conyzoides L. (Asteraceae) or Lantana camara L. (Verbenaceae) are used as substitutes for Pleiocarpa mutica decoctions in Cameroon, as a febrifuge.
Description
Shrub or small tree up to 7.5 m tall, rarely a climbing shrub with stems up to 9 m long; trunk 1.5–5 cm in diameter; bark smooth, dark brown to pale grey. Leaves opposite, sometimes in whorls of 3, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 5–15 mm long; blade elliptical, oblong or ovate, 5–20(–30) cm × 2–8(–11.5) cm, base obtuse or cuneate, apex acuminate, glabrous, pinnately veined with 9–12 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary cluster, 1.5–2.5 cm × 2–3 cm, about 10(–35)-flowered; bracts very small. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, very fragrant, sessile; sepals ovate or elliptical, 1.5–2 mm long, free or connate at base, apex obtuse; corolla tube almost cylindrical, 11–22 mm × 1–3 mm, widened around the anthers, with a belt of hairs 2.5–6 mm wide inside just below the insertion of the stamens, lobes ovate, elliptical to narrowly oblong, (5–)6–13 mm long, apex rounded or obtuse, spreading, recurved later, white; stamens inserted just below the top of the corolla tube, included, 1–2 mm long, anthers narrowly ovate to oblong, yellow with red stripes; ovary superior, almost globose, consisting of 5 separate carpels united at base by a disk-like thickening, style 9–18 mm long, pistil head oblong to ellipsoid, 0.5–1 mm long, white. Fruit consisting of 5 obovoid to globose or ellipsoid follicles, 13.5–20 mm long, apex pointed, yellow to bright orange, slightly wrinkled to finely warted, 1-seeded. Seed globose to oblong, 7.5–12 mm long, brown.
Other botanical information
Pleiocarpa comprises about 5 species and is confined to mainland tropical Africa. It is related to Hunteria and Picralima. Pleiocarpa pycnantha (K.Schum.) Stapf is also used in traditional medicine, but its use as a timber is more important.
A cold infusion of the bark of Pleiocarpa rostrata Benth. (synonym: Pleiocarpa talbotii Wernham) from the rain forest of Nigeria, Cameroon and Gabon is used in Cameroon against stomach-ache. Several alkaloids have been isolated from the bark: talbotine, talpinine, talcarpine and 16-epi-affinine. Talpinine and 16-epi-affinine were also isolated from the root bark.
Growth and development
Pleiocarpa mutica can be found flowering and fruiting throughout the year.
Ecology
Pleiocarpa mutica occurs in dense primary or secondary forest in swampy areas or along river banks, on sandy soil or limestone outcrops, up to 600 m altitude.
Harvesting
The bark, roots and leaves of Pleiocarpa mutica are harvested whenever the need arises.
Handling after harvest
The root or stem bark and leaves may be dried in the sun for several days, after which they can be stored for later use.
Genetic resources
Pleiocarpa mutica does not yet seem threatened by genetic erosion because it is widespread and locally common.
Prospects
Pleiocarpa mutica is locally well appreciated as a medicinal plant. Further studies are needed to elucidate the specific pharmacological activities of the active components, especially pleiomutinine and pleiocarpine, and to determine whether the other alkaloids and the crude extracts have in vivo antimalarial activities. Pleiocarpa mutica has clusters of white, sweet-scented flowers which make it ornamental and worthy of cultivation.
Major references
• Addae-Kyereme, J., Croft, S.L., Kendrick, H. & Wright, C.W., 2001. Antiplasmodial activities of some Ghanaian plants traditionally used for fever/malaria treatment and of some alkaloids isolated from Pleiocarpa mutica; in vivo antimalarial activity of pleiocarpine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 76(1): 99–103.
• Bouquet, A. & Debray, M., 1974. Plantes médicinales de la Côte d’Ivoire. Travaux et Documents No 32. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 231 pp.
• Naranjo, J., Pinar, M., Hesse, M. & Schmid, H., 1972. Ueber die Indolalkaloide von Pleiocarpa talbotii Wernham. 145. Mitteilung über Alkaloide. Helvetica Chimica Acta 55(3): 752–771.
• Omino, E.A., 1996. A contribution to the leaf anatomy and taxonomy of Apocynaceae in Africa. Wageningen Agricultural University Papers 96–1. Wageningen Agricultural University, Wageningen, Netherlands. 178 pp.
Other references
• Abbiw, D.K., 1990. Useful plants of Ghana: West African uses of wild and cultivated plants. Intermediate Technology Publications, London and Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 337 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
• Dalziel, J.M., 1937. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. Crown Agents for Overseas Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 612 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
Sources of illustration
• Omino, E.A., 1996. A contribution to the leaf anatomy and taxonomy of Apocynaceae in Africa. Wageningen Agricultural University Papers 96–1. Wageningen Agricultural University, Wageningen, Netherlands. 178 pp.
Author(s)
N. Nyunaï
Center for Medical Research, Institute of Medical Research and Medicinal Plants Studies, P.O. Box 3805, Yaoundé, Cameroon


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:
Nyunaï, N., 2006. Pleiocarpa mutica Benth. 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, flowering branch; 2, infructescence.
Redrawn and adapted by Iskak Syamsudin



plant habit


leafy branch


inflorescence