Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Bot. Jahrb. Syst. 17: 570 (1893).
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.
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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.