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Tabernaemontana stapfiana Britten

Trans. Linn. Soc. London, Bot. 4: 25 (1894).
Tabernaemontana johnstonii (Stapf) Pichon (1948).
Vernacular names
Wild magnolia, soccerball fruit (En). Mwambe (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Tabernaemontana stapfiana occurs from eastern DR Congo to eastern Kenya, and south to Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
In eastern DR Congo the wood is used for construction of local houses, combs, spoons and handles for knives and swords. It is also used as firewood. The bark, seeds and roots are used against high blood pressure. The latex is applied to wounds. In Kenya a leaf decoction is used as an appetizer and to treat colic, and in DR Congo and Burundi as a galactagogue and in strong doses as an abortifacient. The latex is used as birdlime. Tabernaemontana stapfiana is planted as an ornamental, and as a shade tree and bee plant.
The wood is soft and white to yellow or pale brown.
About a dozen indole alkaloids have been isolated from the bark and stems of Tabernaemontana stapfiana. These include perivine, tubotaiwine and ibogamine, and several pharmacologically active derivatives.
Small to medium-sized tree up to 25(–35) m tall, glabrous; bole up to 90 cm in diameter; bark rough, pale to dark grey-brown; crown widely spreading. Leaves opposite, simple and entire; ocrea conspicuous, usually widened into stipules in axils of petioles; petiole 5–30 mm long; blade narrowly elliptical, 12–40 cm Χ 3–14 cm, base cuneate, often decurrent into the petiole, apex acuminate to rounded, pinnately veined with 12–24 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a rather lax corymb 10–28 cm long, few- to many-flowered; peduncle 3–15 cm long, rather robust. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, sweet-scented; pedicel 5–30 mm long; sepals almost free, orbicular to oblong, 5–7 mm long, thick and fleshy; corolla tube almost cylindrical, 21–42 mm long, twisted, pale green often with pale yellow throat, widened around the anthers, inside hairy, lobes obliquely elliptical, 17–60 mm Χ 8–35 mm, undulate, spreading, apex rounded, white; stamens inserted about halfway the corolla tube, included, anthers sessile; ovary superior, almost cylindrical, consisting of 2 separate carpels connate at base, style cylindrical, 5–10 mm long, pistil head composed of a basal ring, 5 almost orbicular lobes and a stigmoid apical part. Fruit consisting of 2 separate subglobose follicles up to 20 cm in diameter, dark green with paler dots, indehiscent, several- to many-seeded. Seeds obliquely ellipsoid, 1.5–2 cm long, grooved, covered by minute warts, dark brown, aril whitish.
Tabernaemontana comprises about 110 species and is pantropical. About 18 species occur in mainland Africa and 15 in Madagascar.
Tabernaemontana penduliflora K.Schum. is a shrub or small tree up to 8(–12) m tall, occurring from Nigeria to DR Congo. In DR Congo the trunk is used for house posts, and the wood is also used for small blackboards as it is so soft that letters written on it can be easily erased; the wood serves as firewood. The latex is used as birdlime and in traditional medicine to treat colds and wounds. In Cameroon the roots are used to treat malaria. In the Central African Republic fruit juice is applied to wounds, and the bark is made into rough rope.
The main flowering period of Tabernaemontana stapfiana is December to February.
Tabernaemontana stapfiana occurs in forest at 700–2500 m altitude. It is commonly found in secondary forest and on river banks.
In forest in Kenya, more than 5 Tabernaemontana stapfiana stems of over 20 cm diameter can be found locally per ha.
Genetic resources and breeding
Tabernaemontana stapfiana is not threatened by genetic erosion because it is common even in disturbed forest.
Tabernaemontana stapfiana deserves more attention as a multipurpose tree, being useful not only for its timber but also in traditional medicine and as an ornamental.
Major references
• Dharani, N., 2002. Field guide to common trees and shrubs of East Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa. 320 pp.
• Kingston, D.G., Gerhart, B.B., Ionescu, F., Mangino, M.M. & Sami, S.M., 1978. Plant anticancer agents V: new bisindole alkaloids from Tabernaemontana johnstonii stem bark. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 67(2): 249–251.
• Leeuwenberg, A.J.M., 1991. A revision of Tabernaemontana 1. The Old World species. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 223 pp.
• van Beek, T.A., Verpoorte, R., Baerheim Svendsen, A., Leeuwenberg, A.J.M. & Bisset, N.G., 1984. Tabernaemontana L. (Apocynaceae): a review of its taxonomy, phytochemistry, ethnobotany and pharmacology. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 10(1): 1–156.
• Yamada, T., 1999. A report of the ethnobotany of the Nyindu in the eastern part of the former Zaire. African Study Monographs 20(1): 1–72.
Other references
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Hyde, M.A., 2002. Flora of Zimbabwe checklist. Version 1.2. [Internet] fams/anacardiac.html. Accessed May 2006.
• Lovett, J.C., Ruffo, C.K., Gereau, R.E. & Taplin, J.R.D., 2006. Field guide to the moist forest trees of Tanzania. [Internet] Centre for Ecology Law and Policy, Environment Department, University of York, York, United Kingdom. res/celp/webpages/projects/ecology/ tree%20guide/guide.htm. Accessed May 2006.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Njunge, J.J., 1996. Species composition and regeneration at South Nandi Forest, Kenya (BL). PhD thesis, University of Wales. … pp.
• Omino, E.A., 2002. Apocynaceae (part 1). In: Beentje, H.J. & Ghazanfar, S.A. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 116 pp.
• Omino, E.A. & Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Ethnobotany of Apocynaceae species in Kenya. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 40: 167–180.
• R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

• D. Louppe
CIRAD, Dιpartement Environnements et Sociιtιs, Cirad es-dir, Campus international de Baillarguet, TA C-DIR / B (Bβt. C, Bur. 113), 34398 Montpellier Cedex 5, France
• A.A. Oteng-Amoako
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
• M. Brink
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
• J.R. Cobbinah
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana (FORIG), University P.O. Box 63, KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana
Photo editor
• G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2006. Tabernaemontana stapfiana Britten. In: Louppe, D., Oteng-Amoako, A.A. & Brink, M. (Editors). Prota 7(1): Timbers/Bois d’œuvre 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
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