Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Engl., Pflanzenr. IV, 94: 70 (1910).
Triclisia gilletii (De Wild.) Staner (1933).
Origin and geographic distribution
Triclisia dictyophylla occurs from Liberia east to the Central African Republic and south to Angola and Tanzania.
In Côte d’Ivoire Triclisia dictyophylla root pulp or root sap is rubbed into scarifications to treat joint pain, epileptic attacks, oedema, venereal diseases and anaemia. Leaf juice eases cough and a bark or root decoction is used as a wash to calm palpitations. Powdered stem bark is used in the treatment of leprosy. In central DR Congo a decoction of the twig bark is widely taken to treat fever and malaria, and also to treat diarrhoea, stomach problems and purulent catarrh. In south-eastern DR Congo leaves are suspended from the ceiling to help children with breathing problems. In Congo a root bark decoction is taken against stomach problems and dysentery, convulsive coughing and feverish stiffness of the limbs; the root juice is taken to treat rheumatism and inflammation of the joints; the juice of young leaves is diluted and administered as a painkiller to patients with mental health problems during attacks. In south-western parts of the Central African Republic, the macerated root is taken as an abortifacient and emmenagogue. In Tanzania a root decoction is drunk as a vermifuge, whereas roots are taken raw to treat venereal diseases. In Ulanga district in south-eastern Tanzania, grated roots are taken to treat snakebites and expel roundworm.
In several parts of Central Africa the root, especially the root bark, is an ingredient of arrow poison.
The characteristic bioactive compounds in Triclisia dictyophylla are bisbenzyl-isoquinoline alkaloids and related dioxin alkaloids. From the roots and stems the bisbenzyl-isoquinolines phaeanthine, N,N’-dimethylphaeanthine, tetrandrine and the bisbenzyl-isoquinoline dibenzodioxins cocsuline (trigilletine) and trigilletimine were isolated. The stems also yielded the oxo-isoquinoline O-methylmoschatoline and the indeno-isoquinoline triclisine. Analyses of the leaves found the bisbenzyl-isoquinolines stebisimine and obamegine (stepholine), the bisbenzyl-isoquinoline dioxins gilletine and isogilletine-N-oxide, and the morphinan alkaloid tridictyophylline.
Although the pharmacological properties of several Triclisia species containing similar alkaloids have been studied, very few studies have been done on the pharmacological properties of Triclisia dictyophylla. A methanol extract of the stem bark has shown strong activity against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro and a less strong, but significant effect against Trypanosoma brucei. N,N’-dimethylphaeanthine is the principal toxic compound which showed a curare-like paralysing action on muscle tissue in mice and rats. Phaeanthine and cocsuline show high inhibitory activities against Leishmania spp. and Trypanosoma cruzei. Gilletine showed antimalarial activity at IC50 = 110 μg/ml against Plasmodium sp. in vitro.
Dioecious liana up to 30 m long, or scrambling shrub; stems up to 10 cm in diameter; bark greyish, longitudinally striped; young branches sparsely short-hairy, becoming glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; petiole 10–20 cm long, stout, swollen at the base and apex, slightly hairy when young; blade broadly elliptical to almost circular, up to 32 cm × 27 cm, base rounded, cordate or almost cuneate, apex acuminate, leathery, glabrous, pinnately veined, but with 1–2 pairs of basal lateral veins, lateral veins in 3–5 pairs, mostly looping, secondary and tertiary venation very prominent below. Inflorescence an axillary panicle of dense to lax cymes, 1–3 cm long; peduncle densely hairy. Flowers unisexual; pedicel c. 2 mm long, hairy; bracts c. 0.5 mm long; sepals 9–15, densely hairy, pale brown to dull orange, 3–9 outer ones ovate, 1–1.5 mm long, 3 middle ones ovate, c. 1 mm long, 3 interior ones elliptical-obovate, 4–4.5 mm × 2–2.5 mm; male flowers with 3–6 petals c. 0.5 mm long, stamens 3–6, free, c. 5 mm long, filaments slender; female flowers without petals, ovary superior, composed of 50–60 densely hairy carpels, styles 1–1.5 mm long, glabrous. Fruit composed of many obovoid, flattened drupes c. 2.5 cm × 1.5 cm, bright orange, base rounded, apex long-acuminate, recurved, slightly rough; stone very hard, 1-seeded. Seed 1–1.5 cm × 1 cm.
Other botanical information
Triclisia comprises about 20 species, approximately 12 in mainland tropical Africa, 7 in Madagascar and 1 in Mayotte.
Triclisia sacleuxii (Pierre) Diels occurs from Congo east to Kenya and south to Angola and Mozambique; the root is chewed and the sap swallowed to treat kidney problems, sore throat, schistosomiasis, intestinal worms and venereal diseases, while root scrapings are rubbed into topical scarifications to treat snakebites. The roots contain the bisbenzyl-isoquinoline alkaloids phaeanthine, 1,2-dehydroapateline, N-methylapateline, O-methylcocsoline and gasabiimine; the stem contains a mixture of N-( 4-hydroxyphenethyl) ferulamides. A decoction of stem bark or root bark of Triclisia macrocarpa (Baill.) Diels from Madagascar is drunk against malaria.
Triclisia dictyophylla occurs in dense, humid lowland to medium-altitude forest.
As Triclisia dictyophylla occurs in a very wide area, it does not seem to be in danger of genetic erosion.
Because Triclisia dictyophylla is widely used in traditional medicine and because of its significant antiplasmodial activity, further pharmacological research is warranted. The genus Triclisia is in need of a revision.
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• Murebwayire, S., Diallo, B., Luhmer, M., Vanhaelen-Fastré, R., Vanhaelen, M. & Duez, P., 2006. Alkaloids and amides from Triclisia sacleuxii. Fitoterapia 77: 615–617.
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Sources of illustration
• Troupin, G., 1951. Menispermaceae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Homès, M., Jurion, F., Lebrun, J., Vanden Abeele, M. & Boutique, R. (Editors). Flore du Congo belge et du Ruanda-Urundi. Spermatophytes. Volume 2. Institut National pour l’Étude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 202–255.
Correct citation of this article:
Pollard, B.J., 2008. Triclisia dictyophylla Diels. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
1, male flowering branch; 2, fruit.
Redrawn and adapted by Achmad Satiri Nurhaman