Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 36: 93 (1905).
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.
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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.