Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1
Bull. Soc. Bot. France 82: 50 (1935).
Euphorbiaceae (APG: Phyllanthaceae)
2n = 26
Rikio des marais (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Uapaca paludosa occurs from Guinea east to Uganda and Tanzania and south to Cabinda (Angola).
In Congo a root infusion is taken to treat headache caused by fever. Painful parts are embrocated with the crushed roots to ease the pain. A root infusion is considered expectorant and taken to treat a blocked nose and pulmonary afflictions. A root bark or stem bark decoction is drunk to treat female sterility, dysentery and food-poisoning. It is used as a mouth wash to treat toothache, as a vapour bath to treat rheumatism and oedema, as an enema to treat piles and in baths to strengthen rachitic and premature children. Pulped leaves or stem bark with palm oil are applied to furuncles to mature them and also to treat migraine and rheumatism. No medicinal uses are recorded for West Africa.
The fruits are edible and taste like avocado. The wood is used for general carpentry, boxes and kitchen utensils. In Ghana it is considered good firewood.
The ethanolic and dichloromethane stem bark extracts showed moderate antiplasmodial activity in vitro.
The sapwood is pinkish white; the heartwood is darker and shiny when sawn.
Dioecious, small to medium-sized, much-branched, deciduous tree up to 15(–40) m tall; bole fluted, usually on stilt roots up to 4 m high; bark surface grey; crown dense and low branching; branches fairly robust, twigs reddish short-hairy, hollow when dry, leaf scars conspicuous. Leaves alternate, crowded towards the end of the branches, simple and entire; stipules lanceolate to ovate-lanceolate, (0.5–)1–2 cm long, persistent; petiole (3–)5–9(–13) cm long, robust; blade obovate to oblanceolate, 9–30(–50) cm × 4–17(–25) cm, base cuneate to rounded-cuneate, apex rounded, papery to leathery, short-hairy on veins, later almost glabrous, pinnately veined with 7–15(–20) pairs of lateral veins. Male inflorescence an axillary globular to ovoid head 8–10 mm in diameter, female flowers solitary; peduncle of male inflorescence 2–3.5 cm long, with 2–3 small dispersed bracts; involucral bracts 7–10, elliptical-oblong to broadly elliptical-ovate, 5–9 mm × 2–7 mm, strongly concave, outside short-hairy, pale yellow to yellowish green. Flowers unisexual, petals absent; male flowers sessile with c. 9 unequal calyx lobes, several lobes oblong, c. 1 mm long, the others linear, small, stamens 5, filaments up to 2 mm long, rudimentary ovary c. 1 mm long, short-hairy; female flowers with 1–2 cm long pedicel, 6 unequal calyx lobes, triangular to rounded, c. 1 mm long, densely short-hairy, ovary superior, ovoid, 3–4 mm in diameter, densely short-hairy, 3-celled, smooth, styles 3, 3–4.5 mm long, reflexed, 5–6-fid towards apex. Fruit an ovoid to globose drupe 2.5–3 cm × 1.5–2 cm, slightly rough, sparingly short-hairy, greenish becoming brown, with 3(–4) stones, usually 1 seed per stone.
Uapaca comprises 50–60 species from tropical Africa and Madagascar, and is in need of a complete revision. The fruits of Uapaca paludosa are eaten by fruit bats, monkeys, chimpanzees and gorillas, which may disperse the seeds.
Uapaca paludosa occurs in swamp and lakeside forest, fringing forest and rainforest, on slopes and crests as well as in well-drained valley bottoms, up to 1400 m altitude. It prefers soils of granitic origin.
Uapaca paludosa can be propagated by seed and wildlings. It can be pollarded and coppiced.
Genetic resources and breeding
There are no signs that Uapaca paludosa is threatened by genetic erosion.
In Central Africa Uapaca paludosa has many medicinal uses. The antiplasmodial activity of the root bark is promising, and more research is warranted to elucidate the chemical compounds and evaluate the potential of these compounds for future medicine development.
• Burkill, H.M., 1994. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 2, Families E–I. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 636 pp.
• Carter, S. & Radcliffe-Smith, A., 1988. Euphorbiaceae (part 2). In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. pp. 409–597.
• Mbatchi, S.F., Mbatchi, B., Banzouzi, J.T., Bansimba, T., Nsonde Ntandou, G.F., Ouamba, J.M., Berry, A. & Benoit-Vical, F., 2006. In vitro antiplasmodial activity of 18 plants used in Congo Brazzaville traditional medicine. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 104(1–2): 168–174.
• Vivien, J. & Fauré, J.J., 1996. Fruitiers sauvages d’Afrique. Espèces du Cameroun. Ministère Français de la Coopération, Paris, France & CTA, Wageningen, Netherlands. 416 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2008. Uapaca paludosa Aubrév. & Leandri. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.