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Strychnos longicaudata Gilg

Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 17: 570 (1893).
Chromosome number
2n = 44
Origin and geographic distribution
Strychnos longicaudata occurs from Côte d’Ivoire east to the Central African Republic and south to DR Congo.
In Côte d’Ivoire unspecified plant parts of Strychnos longicaudata are used to treat chest-complaints, while in Cameroon they are used to treat malaria. The Aka people of the Central African Republic take a palm wine maceration of twig bark as an aphrodisiac. In the Central African Republic Strychnos longicaudata is used as an ingredient of arrow poison.
In DR Congo the Andiri and Teturi people use the wood to make arrow-shafts, machete handles and other small implements.
Preliminary tests of leafy twigs from Côte d’Ivoire and leaves and seeds from Cameroon showed the presence of the monomeric strychnine class indole alkaloids icajine and vomicine. The root bark contains the dimeric tertiary longicaudatine and its isomer bisnor-C-alkaloid H.
The chloroform fraction of a bark extract showed a weak muscle-relaxant effect in mice. Although icajine does not have an intrinsic antiplasmodial activity, it did reverse chloroquine resistance in in-vitro tests and proved to be synergistic with mefloquine. In in-vivo tests longicaudatine, isolated from Strychnos trinervis (Vell.) Mart., was shown to have an antispasmodic effect on artificially induced contractions of guinea-pig ileum and rat uterus.
Climbing shrub or liana up to 60 m long, climbing with solitary tendrils; stem up to 15 cm in diameter; branchlets medium to dark green, glabrous or less often short-hairy. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent; petiole 2–7 mm long, short-hairy or glabrous; blade elliptical, narrowly elliptical to ovate, 5.5–14(–17.5) cm × 2–6(–8) cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex acuminate, glabrous or with some stiff brown hairs beneath, 3-veined from the base. Inflorescence an axillary or occasionally terminal, solitary, more or less congested thyrse up to 4 cm long, many-flowered. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous; sepals fused at base, orbicular to broadly obovate, up to 1.5 mm long; corolla tube cylindrical, up to 2.5 mm long, lobes triangular, 1.5–2 mm long, acute, almost erect, thick, glabrous or sometimes sparsely hairy outside, greenish white, white or outside pale green and inside white; stamens inserted about halfway in the corolla tube, included; ovary superior, globose, up to c. 1 mm long, glabrous, 2-celled, style up to 1.5 mm long, stigma head-shaped. Fruit an ellipsoid berry 14–17 mm in diameter, wall thin, soft, smooth, orange or yellow-green, 1-seeded. Seed ellipsoid to nearly ovoid, flattened, 11–15 mm × 8–12 mm × 3–5 mm, very short-hairy.
Strychnos comprises about 200 species: about 60 species in Asia, 65 in America and 75 in Africa. Strychnos longicaudata belongs to section Penicillatae. Strychnos tchibangensis Pellegr. occurs in Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Gabon and DR Congo and also belongs to section Penicillatae. In the Central African Republic a bark decoction is taken as an anthelmintic; pulverized bark is used for cicatrisation of wounds.
Strychnos longicaudata occurs in moist localities and on river banks in rainforest, including secondary forest, from sea-level up to 700 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Strychnos longicaudata is rather widespread and does not seem to be threatened by genetic erosion.
Strychnos longicaudata will remain of limited use only. The alkaloids which have been identified so far are more abundant in other Strychnos species.
Major references
• Bisset, N.G., 1970. The African species of Strychnos. Part I. The ethnobotany. Lloydia 33(2): 201–243.
• 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.
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.
• Bisset, N.G. & Leeuwenberg, A.J.M., 1968. The use of Strychnos species in Central African ordeal and arrow poisons. Lloydia 31: 208–222.
• Bisset, N.G. & Phillipson, J.D., 1971. The African species of Strychnos. Part 2. The alkaloids. Lloydia 34(1): 1–60.
• Bouquet, A. & Debray, M., 1974. Plantes médicinales de la Côte d’Ivoire. Travaux et Documents No 32. ORSTOM, Paris, France. 231 pp.
• de Medeiros, C.L.C., Thomas, G. & Mukherjee, R., 1991. The source of CA2+ for the spasmolytic actions of longicaudatine, a bisindole alkaloid isolated from Strychnos trinervis (Vell.) Mart. (Loganiaceae). Phytotherapy Research 5(1): 24–28.
• Frédérich, M., Hayette, M.P., Tits, M., De Mol, P. & Angenot., L., 2000. Reversal of chloroquine and cefloquine resistance in Plasmodium falciparum by the two monoindole alkaloids icajine and isoretuline. Planta Medica 67: 523–527.
• 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.
• Terashima, H. & Ichikawa, M., 2003. A comparative ethnobotany of the Mbuti and Efe hunter-gatherers in the Ituri forest, Democratic Republic of Congo. African Study Monographs 24(1–2): 1–168.
• Thepenier, P., Jacquier, M.J., Massiot, G., Le Men-Olivier, L. & Delaude, C., 1990. Alkaloids from seeds of Strychnos variabilis and S. longicaudata. Phytochemistry 29(2): 686–687.
• Verpoorte, R. & Bohlin, L., 1976. Screening of African Strychnos species for convulsant and muscle-relaxant effects. Acta Pharmaceutica Suecica 13: 245–250.
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

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