Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 17: 571 (1893).
2n = 88
Origin and geographic distribution
Strychnos angolensis occurs from Nigeria east to Tanzania, and south to Angola and Mozambique.
Strychnos angolensis was recorded as being used as ordeal poison in the Equateur province in DR Congo. In Cameroon the branches are used to make arrow shafts.
The root and stem bark of Strychnos angolensis contain at least 15 alkaloids: gentianine, aspidospermine, akuammicine, tubifoline, condylocarpine, akuammidine, 16(R)-epi-isositsirikine, 16(S)-epi-isositsirikine, tubifolidine, normavacurine, antirhine (anthirine), strychnofluorine (18-hydroxy-nor-C-fluorocurarine), flavopereirine, caracurine VII-N-oxide (WGA N-oxide) and tubotaiwine; the last two are the major components. The stem bark also contains the tertiary dimeric alkaloid caracurine V. In pharmacological screenings of bark extract, convulsive effects have been shown in the nonpolar part of the tertiary alkaloid fraction, while the polar fraction showed a strong muscle-relaxant activity. Strychnos angolensis has a considerable amount of mucilage in the leaves. The fruit pulp contains the polyphenol caffeic acid.
In-vitro tests of leaf and root extracts showed moderate antiplasmodial activity against Plasmodium falciparum.
Large liana up to 30 m long, climbing by solitary tendrils or shrub to small tree up to 12 m tall; stem up to 20 cm in diameter; bark pale brown; branches medium to dark brown, branchlets green, ochrous hairy. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 1–5 mm long, ochrous hairy; blade ovate to elliptical, 2–7(–10) cm × 1–4(–5) cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex obtuse to acute or acuminate, glabrous or hairy on the veins especially at the base, 3-veined from the base. Inflorescence an axillary or sometimes terminal lax thyrse 1–6 cm long, few-flowered; peduncle ochrous hairy. Flowers bisexual, regular, 4–5-merous; sepals broadly ovate, 0.5–1 mm long; corolla tube c. 0.5 mm long, lobes ovate to triangular, 1.5–2 mm long, acute, spreading, outside glabrous or minutely hairy, inside hairy at base, white or yellow; stamens inserted at the mouth of the corolla tube, just exserted; ovary superior, globose or broadly ovoid, c. 1 mm in diameter, 2-celled, gradually narrowing into the style c. 0.5 mm long, stigma head-shaped. Fruit an ellipsoid to globose, glaucous berry c. 12 mm × 12–22 mm × 18 mm, soft, orange or red, 1-seeded. Seed ellipsoid, 8.5–15 mm × 6–11 mm × 5–9 mm, smooth, glabrous, dark brown, shiny.
Strychnos comprises about 200 species: about 60 species in Asia, 65 in America and 75 in Africa. Strychnos angolensis belongs to the section Breviflorae. Also in this section is Strychnos malchairii De Wild., which occurs in DR Congo; the Mbuti and Efe people use the pounded bark to make an arrow poison. The ground roots are applied as a paste to treat large ulcers. The stems are used to make arrow shafts. The flexible stem is also used as rope.
Strychnos angolensis occurs in forest near river banks and in gallery forest, from sea-level up to 1500 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Strychnos angolensis is widespread and is not threatened by genetic erosion.
It is likely that Strychnos angolensis will remain of little importance, unless further research shows new pharmacological activities of the alkaloids.
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Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2008. Strychnos angolensis Gilg. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.