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Strychnos barteri Soler.

Protologue
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 17: 556 (1893).
Family
Loganiaceae
Chromosome number
2n = 44
Origin and geographic distribution
Strychnos barteri occurs from Guinea east to Cameroon.
Uses
In Côte d’Ivoire the fruit is used as a fish poison. In Nigeria the stems are used to make bows.
Properties
Seven indole alkaloids have been isolated from Strychnos barteri. The stem contains nigritanine, the stem bark and the root akagerine, the stem bark and the leaves contain 18-dehydro-nigritanine and the leaves 10-hydroxy-nigritanine, 18-dehydro-10-hydroxy-nigritanine, oxindole alkaloid I and oxindole alkaloid II. Akagerine is a potent convulsant agent, although 100 times less active than strychnine.
Botany
Large liana, up to 100 m long, climbing with tendrils in 1–3 pairs; stem up to 16 cm in diameter; branchlets medium to dark green, glabrous. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 4–10 mm long, glabrous; blade elliptical to narrowly obovate, 3–10(–20) cm × 1.5–6(–8) cm, base cuneate to rounded or cordate, apex rounded to shortly acuminate, leathery, glabrous, 5-veined from somewhat above the base. Inflorescence an axillary, usually congested thyrse 1–3 cm long, several together, few-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, 4-merous; sepals fused at base, ovate to orbicular, 1–1.5 mm long; corolla tube up to 4.5 mm long, slightly widened at the throat, lobes oblong, 2.5–3 mm long, acute, recurved, outside glabrous, inside hairy on the base of the lobes and on upper part of the tube, white; stamens inserted at the mouth of the corolla tube, exserted; ovary superior, ovoid, 4–6 mm long, glabrous, 2-celled, style 3–5 mm long, stigma obscurely 2-lobed. Fruit an obliquely ellipsoid or obovoid berry 20–32 mm × 16–22 mm × 15–22 mm, wall thin, rather hard, orange, 1–several-seeded. Seeds obliquely ellipsoid, 13–20 mm × 10–14 mm × 4–10 mm, white, at one side with a deep pit, at the other with a bulge surrounded by a shallow groove.
Strychnos comprises about 200 species: about 60 species in Asia, 65 in America and 75 in Africa. Strychnos barteri belongs to the section Dolichanthae. Several other Strychnos spp. from this section are used medicinally. Plant extracts of Strychnos gossweileri Excell, a small fire resistant savanna shrub, which occurs from Cameroon south to Zambia, are used in African folk medicine to treat malaria. The plant contains several indole alkaloids, of which matadine shows interesting toxic activities against human cancer cells. An ethyl acetate extract of the root showed significant anti-malarial activity in vitro. The Mende people of Sierra Leone grind the young leaves of Strychnos melastomatoides Gilg, a liana from Guinea and Sierra Leone, to a paste to treat wounds and use the stems as chew-sticks.
Ecology
Strychnos barteri occurs mostly on river banks in rainforest, also montane rainforest and periodically inundated secondary forest, from sea-level up to 1300 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Strychnos barteri does not seem to be in danger of genetic erosion.
Prospects
In view of the pharmacologically interesting compounds found in other Strychnos species, more research into the chemical composition and pharmacological activities of the indole alkaloids of Strychnos barteri and the other species mentioned 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.
• 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.
Other references
• Dassonneville, L., Bonjean, K., De Pauw-Gillet, M.-C., Colson, P., Houssier, C., Quetin-Leclercq, J., Angenot, L. & Bailly, C., 1999. Stimulation of topoisomerase II-mediated DNA cleavage by three DNA-intercalating plant alkaloids: cryptolepine, matadine, and serpentine. Biochemistry 38(24): 7719–7726.
• Nicoletti, M., Oguakwa, J.U. & Messana, I., 1980. On the alkaloids of two African Strychnos, Strychnos nigritana Bak. and Strychnos barteri Sol. Carbon-13 NMR spectroscopy of nigritanins. Fitoterapia 51(3): 131–134.
• Philippe, G., Angenot, L., De Mol, P., Goffin, E., Hayette, M.P., Tits, M. & Frédérich, M., 2005. In vitro screening of some Strychnos species for antiplasmodial activity. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 97(3): 535–539.
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

Correct citation of this article:
de Ruijter, A., 2008. Strychnos barteri Soler. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.