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Strychnos camptoneura Gilg & Busse

Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 36: 93 (1905).
Chromosome number
2n = 44
Origin and geographic distribution
Strychnos camptoneura occurs from Liberia east to the Central African Republic and south to DR Congo.
In Cameroon the bark is eaten or a bark maceration in water or palm wine is taken to treat lack of sexual strength. In Cameroon and Congo Strychnos camptoneura is used to treat malaria. In Congo tea made from the stem bark and sweetened with honey is taken to treat stomach-ache, kidney pain and hernia. A warm decoction of leaves or bark or dry powdered bark is applied to wounds and ulcers. In the Central African Republic and in Congo the root bark of Strychnos camptoneura mixed with plant sap of Periploca nigrescens Afzel. and sometimes other plant species, is used as an arrow poison. In Liberia and Cameroon the fruit is used as a fish poison and the root is used for the same purpose in the Central African Republic.
Strychnos camptoneura is rich in alkaloids. Total alkaloid content of the leaves is over 2%. At least 10 monomeric indole alkaloids have been isolated; the leaves contain the vallesiachotamine class tertiary alkaloid antirhine, its quaternary base antirhine methobromide and the trinitrogenated angustine, which is also present in the stem bark. The stem bark also contains the tetracyclic akagerine class alkaloid akagerine, its isomer kribine, the trinitrogenated camptoneurine, the retuline type alkaloid retuline, its derivative retuline-N-oxide and the ajmalicine type alkaloids alstonine and serpentine. Retuline, alstonine and serpentine are also present in the root bark.
Stem bark and root bark extracts have strong muscle relaxant activity. A crude ethanol root extract did not have a significant toxic effect on a chloroquine-sensitive strain of Plasmodium falciparum. Serpentine, present in large amounts in Rauvolfia serpentina (L.) Benth. ex Kurz, is known to inhibit topoisomerase II and has shown cytotoxic activity against some tumour cell lines, for instance B16 melanoma and HeLa carcinoma. Retuline has a significant anti-oedematogenic activity in anti-inflammatory tests in rats. Akagerine is a potent convulsant agent, but 100 times less active than strychnine. Kribine causes clonic and tonic convulsions.
Large liana up to 120 m long, climbing with tendrils in 1–3 pairs; stem up to 25 cm in diameter; branchlets shining and dark green, glabrous. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 7–17 mm long, glabrous; blade elliptical to ovate, 6–22(–31) cm × 3–10(–12) cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex acute to shortly acuminate, glabrous, 3-veined from the base. Inflorescence an axillary or occasionally terminal solitary lax or congested thyrse 4.5–6.5 cm long, few-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; sepals fused at base, orbicular, up to 3.5 mm long; corolla tube campanulate or cylindrical, up to 6 mm long, corolla lobes triangular to ovate, 4–6 mm long, acute, spreading or recurved, thick, glabrous outside, white or yellow, inside with a minutely hairy, wavy or 5-lobed corona; stamens inserted at the mouth of the corolla tube, included; ovary superior, ovoid, 3–4 mm long, glabrous, 2-celled, style up to 5.5 mm long, stigma head-shaped. Fruit a globose to ellipsoid or slightly pear-shaped berry 6–20 cm in diameter, pale glaucous to yellow, wall thick, hard, pulp orange, containing very strong fibres, with 10–many seeds. Seeds obliquely orbicular to ovoid, flattened, 25–50 mm × 20–40 mm × 3–6 mm, glabrous, smooth, with a narrow irregular wing 1–6 mm wide.
Strychnos comprises about 200 species: about 60 species in Asia, 65 in America and 75 in Africa. Strychnos camptoneura is the only species in section Scyphostrychnos.
Strychnos camptoneura occurs in rainforest, including secondary forest, up to 700 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Strychnos camptoneura is rather widespread and does not seem to be threatened by genetic erosion.
Strychnos camptoneura will remain of limited use only, unless additional pharmacological research on the alkaloids reveals interesting possibilities for medicine development.
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., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 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
• Betti, J.L., 2003. Plantes utilisées pour soigner le paludisme dans la réserve du Dja, Cameroun. Revue de Médecines et Pharmacopées Africaines 17: 121–130.
• 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.
• 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.
• Frédérich, M., Hayette, M.P., Tits, M., De Mol, P. & Angenot, L., 1999. In vitro activities of Strychnos alkaloids and extracts against Plasmodium falciparum. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy 43(9): 2328–2331.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 1996. African ethnobotany: poisons and drugs. Chapman & Hall, London, United Kingdom. 941 pp.
• Noumi, E., Amvan Zollo, P.H. & Lontsi, D., 1998. Aphrodisiac plants used in Cameroon. Fitoterapia 69: 125–135.
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

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 camptoneura Gilg & Busse. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.