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Pleiocarpa pycnantha (K.Schum.) Stapf

Protologue
Dyer, Fl. trop. Afr. 4(1): 99 (1902).
Family
Apocynaceae
Synonyms
Pleiocarpa flavescens Stapf (1902), Pleiocarpa micrantha Stapf (1902).
Origin and geographic distribution
Pleiocarpa pycnantha is widespread from Senegal east to Kenya, and south to Angola and Mozambique.
Uses
The wood is used for local construction, combs, plane-blocks, implement handles and pestles, and also for carving, e.g. to make pipe-stems in Uganda. Ground roots mixed with seeds of Aframomum melegueta K.Schum. and palm wine are taken as a laxative. In Benin a leaf maceration with lemon juice is administered to patients suffering from jaundice, oedema, reduced urine excretion and infection by roundworms.
Properties
The wood is yellow to brown, hard and durable. Some indole alkaloids have been isolated from Pleiocarpa pycnantha roots and bark, e.g. pycnanthine, pleiocarpamine, quebrachamine and macusine B.
Botany
Shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 20(–30) m tall; bole up to 50 cm in diameter; bark smooth to fissured or reticulately cracked, grey to reddish brown. Leaves opposite or in whorls of 3–5, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 5–20 mm long; blade narrowly elliptical to oblong, 4–22 cm × 1–8 cm, base rounded to cuneate, apex obtuse to acute or acuminate, glabrous, pinnately veined with 15–25 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence an axillary cluster, 1–2 cm × 1–3 cm, 10–30(–40)-flowered; bracts very small. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, very fragrant to bad-smelling; pedicel 1–3 mm long; sepals ovate or elliptical, 1–2.5(–3) mm long, free or connate at base, apex acute to rounded; corolla tube almost cylindrical, 6–10 mm × 0.5–2 mm, with a belt of hairs 1–3 mm wide inside just below the insertion of the stamens, lobes ovate to almost orbicular, 1.5–4.5(–5) mm long, apex rounded to acute, spreading, recurved later, white to yellow-orange; stamens inserted just below the top of the corolla tube, included, 1–2 mm long, anthers ovate, yellow; ovary superior, ovoid to globose, consisting of 2 separate carpels united at base by a disk-like thickening, style 4–8 mm long, pistil head ellipsoid to ovoid, 0.2–1 mm long. Fruit consisting of 2 globose to ellipsoid follicles 13–23(–30) mm long, apex pointed to rounded, yellow to orange, smooth to slightly rough, 2-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid to oblong, 6.5–13.5 mm long, brown.
Pleiocarpa comprises about 5 species and is confined to mainland tropical Africa. It is related to Hunteria and Picralima.
Pleiocarpa pycnantha can be found flowering and fruiting throughout the year.
Ecology
Pleiocarpa pycnantha occurs in the understorey of rainforest, gallery forest and montane forest, up to 2300 m altitude. It can also be found in disturbed forest.
Genetic resources and breeding
As Pleiocarpa pycnantha is widespread and occurs in various forest types, there is no reason to consider it threatened by genetic erosion.
Prospects
It is unlikely that Pleiocarpa pycnantha will become an economically important timber tree in the future because its size is usually too small. However, its hard and durable wood will remain useful for the construction of local houses and the production of implements, as long as natural stands of sufficient volume are available.
Major references
• 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.
• Coates Palgrave, K., 1983. Trees of southern Africa. 2nd Edition. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa. 959 pp.
• 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
• Adjanohoun, E.J., Adjakidjè, V., Ahyi, M.R.A., Aké Assi, L., Akoègninou, A., d’Almeida, J., Apovo, F., Boukef, K., Chadare, M., Cusset, G., Dramane, K., Eyme, J., Gassita, J.N., Gbaguidi, N., Goudote, E., Guinko, S., Houngnon, P., Lo, I., Keita, A., Kiniffo, H.V., Kone-Bamba, D., Musampa Nseyya, A., Saadou, M., Sodogandji, T., De Souza, S., Tchabi, A., Zinsou Dossa, C. & Zohoun, T., 1989. Contribution aux études ethnobotaniques et floristiques en République Populaire du Bénin. Agence de Coopération Culturelle et Technique, Paris, France. 895 pp.
• Gorman, A.A., Dastoor, N.J., Hesse, M., von Philipsborn, W., Renner, U. & Schmid, H., 2004. Ueber die Konstitution zweier neuartiger dimerer Indolalkaloide Pycnanthin und Pleiomutinin 132. Mitteilung über Alkaloide. Helvetica Chimica Acta 52(1): 33–55.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
Author(s)
R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
D. Louppe
CIRAD, Département Environnements et Sociétés, Cirad es-dir, Campus international de Baillarguet, TA C-DIR / B (Bât. C, Bur. 113), 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
A.A. Oteng-Amoako
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
M. Brink
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
J.R. Cobbinah
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana

Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2006. Pleiocarpa pycnantha (K.Schum.) Stapf. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.