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Strychnos aculeata Soler.

Protologue
Engl. & Prantl, Nat. Pflanzenfam. IV, 2: 40 (1892).
Family
Loganiaceae
Chromosome number
2n = 36, 44
Origin and geographic distribution
Strychnos aculeata occurs from Sierra Leone east to Uganda and south to Angola and Zambia.
Uses
Strychnos aculeata is widely used for medicinal purposes, mainly as an emetic and to treat urinary, genital and pulmonary infections. In Côte d’Ivoire plant sap is rubbed in to treat guinea worm infections. An infusion of the bark together with the fruit of Piper guineense Schumach. & Thonn. is administered as an enema and rubbed in to treat gonorrhoea and swellings in the genital region. A bark decoction is taken and used as an enema to treat oedema and scrotal elephantiasis. Fruit pulp is rubbed on the head to treat insanity. In Ghana ground seeds are used as an enema to treat oedema of the abdomen. In Gabon the maceration of pulped fruit is taken as an abortifacient. Ground seeds are taken in water as an emetic. In Congo a bark decoction is taken to treat pulmonary complaints, food poisoning, trypanosomiasis and insanity and as an expectorant and emetic. Leaf sap is rubbed in and a bark decoction is used in vapour baths to treat fever fits. The Badala people of DR Congo use the crushed leaves to treat pulmonary tuberculosis. In Zambia a root decoction is taken to treat gonorrhoea and pneumonia.
In Cameroon the seeds of Strychnos aculeata are rubbed into a paste and used as arrow poison. The fruit and a paste from the seed are used as fish poison. The fruit is also a common soap substitute. In Côte d’Ivoire the large spherical fruit cut in half is used to make drinking cups and ladles.
Properties
The fruits and especially the seeds of Strychnos aculeata are highly poisonous. The fruit contains saponins. Indole alkaloids were only found in the fruit wall, not in the seeds. Principal indole alkaloids of the root bark are strychnofendlerine and N-acetyl-strychnosplendine. The stem bark contains spermostrychnine, N-acetyl-isostrychnosplendine and N-acetyl-O-methylstrychnosplendine, the latter being also the main indole alkaloid of the fruit.
N-acetyl-O-methylstrychnosplendine is partly responsible for the strong muscle-paralysing activity in vitro and in vivo. Spermostrychnine causes clonic convulsions, but no tonic convulsions in mice.
Description
Large liana up to 100 m long, climbing with tendrils in 1–3(–4) pairs; stem up to 20(–22) cm in diameter, with prickles 3–5(–9) mm long; branchlets dark green and shining, with prickles, glabrous. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 2–12 mm long, glabrous; blade oblong to elliptical, (3–)8–18 cm × (2–)3–8 cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex acuminate, glabrous, 3-veined from the base. Inflorescence an axillary congested thyrse up to 7 cm long, many-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; sepals fused at base, almost orbicular, up to 2 mm long; corolla tube almost cylindrical, up to 3 mm long, pale green, slightly widened towards the throat, lobes triangular to ovate, 1–2 mm long, acute, erect, thick, glabrous outside, inside with a flat brush of white hairs on the lobes, white; stamens inserted at the middle of the corolla tube, included; ovary superior, ovoid, 1.5–2 mm long, glabrous, 2-celled, stigma almost sessile, oblong. Fruit a globose berry 10–12 cm in diameter, slightly laterally compressed, very hard, greenish yellow to dark green, many-seeded. Seeds obliquely ovoid to ellipsoid, flattened, 20–35 mm × 16–25 mm × 4–8 mm, hairy, rough, often at one side with a raised line.
Other botanical information
Strychnos comprises about 200 species: about 60 species in Asia, 65 in America and 75 in Africa. Strychnos aculeata belongs to the section Aculeatae and is the only species in this section. The fruits and seeds of Strychnos elaeocarpa Gilg ex Leeuwenb. from section Rouhamon, Strychnos ternata Gilg ex Leeuwenb. from section Spinosae and Strychnos staudtii Gilg from section Densiflorae are all used in Cameroon as arrow poison and fish poison. Strychnos densiflora Baill. and Strychnos lucens Baker also belong to section Densiflorae. Strychnos densiflora is used in Cameroon as ordeal poison. In Tanzania the ground roots of Strychnos lucens are taken in food to treat hookworm infections.
Ecology
Strychnos aculeata occurs in rainforest, including secondary forest, from sea-level up to 700 m altitude.
Genetic resources
There are no indications that Strychnos aculeata is in danger of genetic erosion.
Prospects
Strychnos aculeata is widely used for medicinal purposes. In order to promote its sustainable use, research should be done on improved methods of harvesting and possibly its domestication. More research into the pharmacological activities of the compounds of Strychnos aculeata seems warranted.
Major references
• Burkill, H.M., 1995. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 3, Families J–L. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 857 pp.
• Leeuwenberg, A.J.M., 1969. The Loganiaceae of Africa 8. Strychnos 3. Revision of the African species with notes on the extra-African. Mededelingen Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen 69–1. Wageningen, Netherlands. 316 pp.
• Leeuwenberg, A.J.M. (Editor), 1980. Angiospermae: Ordnung Gentiales. Fam. Loganiaceae. Die natürlichen Pflanzenfamilien. Second Edition. Band 28 b-1. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, Germany. 255 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 1996. African ethnobotany: poisons and drugs. Chapman & Hall, London, United Kingdom. 941 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2004. Plants used for poison fishing in tropical Africa. Toxicon 44(4): 417–430.
• Weeratunga, G., Goonetileke, A., Rolfsen, W., Bohlin, L. & Sandberg, F., 1984. Alkaloids in Strychnos aculeata. Acta Pharmaceutica Suecica 21(2): 135–140.
Other references
• Bisset, N.G. & Leeuwenberg, A.J.M., 1968. The use of Strychnos species in Central African ordeal and arrow poisons. Lloydia 31: 208–222.
• Bouquet, A., 1969. Féticheurs et médecines traditionnelles du Congo (Brazzaville). Mémoires ORSTOM No 36. Office de la Recherche Scientifique et Technique Outre-Mer. Paris, France. 282 pp.
• Bouquet, A. & Debray, M., 1974. Plantes médicinales de la Côte d’Ivoire. Travaux et Documents No 32. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 231 pp.
• Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana, with special reference to their uses. Oxford University Press, London, United Kingdom. 868 pp.
• Kerharo, J. & Bouquet, A., 1950. Plantes médicinales et toxiques de la Côte d’Ivoire - Haute-Volta. Vigot Frères, Paris, France. 291 pp.
• Mirand, C., Delaude, C., Levy, J., Le Men-Olivier, L. & Le Men, J., 1979. Alkaloids of Strychnos aculeata Sol. Plantes Médicinales et Phytothérapie 13(2): 84–86.
• Noumi, E., 2004. Animal and plant poisons and their antidotes in Eseka and Mbalmayo regions, Centre Province, Cameroon. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 93: 231–241.
• Ohiri, F.C., Verpoorte, R. & Baerheim Svendsen, A., 1983. The African Strychnos species and their alkaloids: a review. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 9(2–3): 167–223.
• Raponda-Walker, A. & Sillans, R., 1961. Les plantes utiles du Gabon. Paul Lechevalier, Paris, France. 614 pp.
• Rolfsen, W., Hakizadeh, Z.M., Sandberg, F. & Stroembom, J., 1979. Pharmacological and phytochemical screening of Strychnos species from Gabon. Acta Pharmaceutica Suecica 16(1): 47–55.
• Téré, H.G., 2000. Signification des noms vernaculaires des plantes chez les Guérés (Côte d’Ivoire). Sempervira No 7. Centre Suisse de Recherches Scientifiques (CSRS), Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. 96 pp.
• Tra Bi, F.H., Kouamé, F.N. & Traoré, D., 2005. Utilisation of climbers in two forest reserves in West Côte d’Ivoire. In: Bongers, F., Parren, M.P.E. & Traoré, D. (Editors). Forest climbing plants of West Africa. Diversity, ecology and management. CABI Publishing, Wallingford, United Kingdom. pp. 167–181.
Sources of illustration
• Leeuwenberg, A.J.M., 1969. The Loganiaceae of Africa 8. Strychnos 3. Revision of the African species with notes on the extra-African. Mededelingen Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen 69–1. Wageningen, Netherlands. 316 pp.
Author(s)
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


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:
de Ruijter, A., 2008. Strychnos aculeata Soler. 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, tendrils; 3, flower; 4, fruit; 5, seed.
Redrawn and adapted by Iskak Syamsudin



leafy branch and opened fruit
obtained from
Tropicos