Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Trans. Linn. Soc. 13: 221 (1821).
Origin and geographic distribution
Smeathmannia pubescens occurs in the forest zone from Guinea-Bissau east to Nigeria.
In Sierra Leone a bark decoction is taken to treat dysentery. In Liberia the inner bark is used as a poultice to treat toothache. In Côte d’Ivoire the Guéré people take the sap from crushed leaves to treat acute enteritis.
The hard and reddish wood of Smeathmannia pubescens is used as firewood and to produce chew-sticks by splitting. The pulp of the fruits is edible, but astringent.
A mixture of the cyanogenic glycosides epitetraphyllin B (volkenin) and tetraphyllin B (barterioside) has been isolated from a leaf extract.
Much-branched shrub or small tree up to 10 m tall; branches shallowly grooved, hairy, purplish. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules minute, soon falling; petiole short, glandular, with 2 stalked glands on either side; blade oblong, 5–8 cm long, base rounded, apex obtuse, margin toothed, leathery, glabrous or hairy on both sides. Flowers solitary in leaf axils, bisexual, regular, 5-merous, glabrous, 5–7 cm in diameter; pedicel up to 3 cm long, reddish hairy; sepals oblong, c. 2.5 cm long, apex acute, imbricate, the exposed portions with golden-brown or reddish brown silky hairs, the covered edges white; petals ovate to oblong, c. 2.5 cm long, apex obtuse to emarginate, white; corona annular; stamens c. 20, fused at base; ovary superior, globose to ovoid, 1-celled, densely hairy at apex, styles 3–5, filiform, stigma large, head-shaped. Fruit an ovoid capsule, leathery, 3-valved. Seeds obovoid, compressed, with hard, pitted testa.
Smeathmannia comprises 6 species, which all occur in West Africa. Smeathmannia laevigata Sol. ex R.Br. occurs from Senegal to Sierra Leone and is similar to Smeathmannia pubescens. In Sierra Leone a bark decoction of Smeathmannia laevigata is taken to treat dysentery. In Senegal macerated leaves or a decoction of leafy stems are used in baths or taken orally to treat fever, back pain and headache. A decoction of twigs is used externally to treat sores and eye troubles.
Smeathmannia pubescens occurs in fringing and open forest.
Genetic resources and breeding
Smeathmannia pubescens is fairly widespread and therefore not in danger of genetic erosion.
It seems likely that Smeathmannia pubescens will remain of limited use only.
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Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2007. Smeathmannia pubescens Sol. ex R.Br. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.