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Tabernaemontana ventricosa Hochst. ex A.DC.

Prodr. 8: 366 (1844).
Chromosome number
2n = 22
Tabernaemontana usambarensis K.Schum. ex Engl. (1894).
Vernacular names
Forest toad tree, small-fruited toad tree (En). Mwambe ziwa (Sw).
Origin and geographic distribution
Tabernaemontana ventricosa has a disjunct area of distribution, occurring in eastern Nigeria and western Cameroon, and from eastern DR Congo to Kenya and south to Natal in South Africa.
The latex of Tabernaemontana ventricosa is applied to wounds and sore eyes to promote healing. A bark decoction is taken to reduce fever. In Natal the seeds, bark and roots are used as medicine for nervous problems and high blood pressure. The fruits are edible. The latex is used for making birdlime. The soft whitish wood is used for making stools, beds and knife sheaths and in construction. Tabernaemontana ventricosa is also suitable for planting in swampy areas where other species fail to survive and it would make an attractive garden tree with its sweet-smelling flowers and unusual fruits.
The major indole alkaloids extracted from the stem bark of Tabernaemontana ventricosa plants cultivated in a greenhouse were 10-hydroxyheyneanine (ibogan class) and akuammicine (strychnan class). Minor amounts of apparicine, tubotaiwine (aspidospermatan class), norfluorocurarine, akuammicine N4-oxide (strychnan class), 16-epi-isositsirikine (corynanthean class) and 10-hydroxycoronaridine (ibogan class) were also detected.
Akuammicine showed opioid activity in opiate receptor studies. Bark extracts of Tabernaemontana ventricosa do not show antibacterial, antifungal and antimalarial activities in vitro. A leaf extract showed significant anti-amoebic activity.
Shrub or small tree up to 15 m tall, glabrous, dichotomously branched; trunk terete up to 30 cm in diameter; bark longitudinally fissured, often corky. Leaves opposite, simple; ocrea widened into stipules in axils of petioles; petiole 3–15 mm long; blade narrowly elliptical, 4–27 cm Χ 1.5–10(–12) cm, base cuneate or rounded, apex acuminate, acute or obtuse, margins wavy, leathery, pinnately veined with 7–23 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a corymb 5–23 cm long, 2 together in the forks of the branches, more or less congested, many-flowered; peduncle 2–15 cm long, rather robust. Flowers bisexual, regular, 5-merous, sweet-scented; pedicel 3–10 mm long; sepals orbicular to broadly ovate, 3.5–6 mm long, ciliate; corolla tube cylindrical to narrowly bottle-shaped, 10–27 mm long, inflated at the insertion of the stamens, slightly twisted at base, lobes obliquely elliptical, 14–32 mm long, undulate, spreading and recurved later, white with a pale yellow throat and greenish tube; stamens inserted 6–8 mm above the corolla base, included or slightly exserted, anthers sessile, narrowly triangular; ovary superior, broadly ovoid, consisting of 2 free carpels, style slender, pistil head widened at the base into a thin ring, grading into 5 lateral lobes, overtopped by the stigmoid apex. Fruit composed of 2 separate, obliquely ellipsoid follicles 6–7(–10) cm in diameter, dark green, with 2 faint lateral ridges, smooth, dehiscent, several- to many-seeded. Seeds obliquely ellipsoid, 11–23 mm long, with longitudinal grooves, minutely warty, dark brown, aril orange. Seedling with epigeal germination.
Tabernaemontana comprises about 110 species and is pantropical. About 18 species occur in mainland Africa and 15 in Madagascar. In Nigeria and Cameroon Tabernaemontana ventricosa flowers from January to April, in DR Congo and Uganda from March to May, and in Kenya to South Africa from September to December. In South Africa, it fruits from June to August.
Tabernaemontana ventricosa occurs in open or secondary forest, gallery forest and thickets in woodland, from sea-level to 1850 m altitude. It is frost sensitive, prefers shade, and requires a moderate amount of water.
Tabernaemontana ventricosa can easily be grown from seed and grows relatively fast.
Genetic resources and breeding
Tabernaemontana ventricosa has a relatively large distribution, and is also found in disturbed habitats. It is therefore not likely to be threatened by genetic erosion.
Little is known about the indole alkaloids of Tabernaemontana ventricosa. Because some of the traditional uses are similar to other, better-known Tabernaemontana spp., more research on the pharmacology and phytochemistry is needed to fully evaluate the potential of this species.
Major references
• Boudreau, S., Lawes, M.J., Piper, S.E. & Phadima, L.J., 2005. Subsistence harvesting of pole-size understorey species from Ongoye Forest Reserve, South Africa: Species preference, harvest intensity, and social correlates. Forest Ecology and Management 216: 149–165.
• Grace, O.M., Prendergast, H.D.V., Jδger, A.K. & van Staden, J., 2002. Bark medicines in traditional healthcare in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: an inventory. South African Journal of Botany 69(3): 301–363.
• Leeuwenberg, A.J.M., 1991. A revision of Tabernaemontana 1. The Old World species. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 223 pp.
• Schripsema, J., Hermans Lokkerbol, A., van der Heijden, R., Verpoorte, R., Baerheim Svendsen, A. & van Beek, T.A., 1986. Alkaloids of Tabernaemontana ventricosa. Journal of Natural Products 49(4): 733–735.
Other references
• Burkill, H.M., 1985. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 1, Families A–D. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 960 pp.
• Le Roux, L.-N., 2005. Tabernaemontana ventricosa. [Internet] South African National Biodiversity Institute, Cape Town, South Africa. planttuv/tabervent.htm Accessed 22 June 2005.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Lovett, J.C., Ruffo, C.K. & Gereau, R.E., 2003. 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 June 2005.
• 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.
• G.H. Schmelzer
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, Rιduit, 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:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2006. Tabernaemontana ventricosa Hochst. ex A.DC. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes mιdicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
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obtained from
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