Prota 7(2): Timbers/Bois duvre 2
Ann. Soc. Sci. Bruxelles, s้r. B, 53: 317 (1933).
Origin and geographic distribution
Uvariopsis congensis is widespread, from Liberia east to western Kenya, and south to DR Congo and Zambia.
In Kenya branches are used for bows. In DR Congo the tree is part of many rituals and as such protected by the Mbuti and Efe people.
Leaf extracts showed cytotoxicity against human KB cancer cell lines, as well as antimalarial activity. Acetogenins have been isolated from the leaves.
Shrub or small to medium-sized tree up to 20 m tall; bole up to 30 cm in diameter; bark surface fissured, grey-green with brownish patches; twigs glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple and entire, with a strong spicy smell when rubbed; stipules absent; petiole 24 mm long; blade oblong to elliptical-oblong, 5.515 cm ื 1.56(7.5) cm, cuneate to rounded at base, obtuse to acuminate at apex, papery, glabrous, pinnately veined with 812 pairs of lateral veins. Flowers solitary in the leaf axils or on branches or bole, unisexual, regular; pedicel up to 1 cm long; sepals 2, fused at base, lobes nearly round, 12 mm in diameter, short-hairy outside; petals 4, free, elliptical to ovate-lanceolate, 0.51 cm long, fleshy, short-hairy outside, greenish white to yellow; male flowers often higher up the branches amongst the leaves, with numerous stamens c. 0.5 mm long, anthers sessile; female flowers often at main stem, with numerous hairy carpels 34 mm long. Fruit consisting of 46 indehiscent oblong-ellipsoid to cylindrical follicles 1.54.5 cm ื 12 cm, becoming glabrous, red, slightly constricted between the seeds, each follicle 310-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid, slightly flattened, 11.5 cm ื 0.51 cm, yellowish brown, with ruminate endosperm.
Uvariopsis congensis trees fruit fairly synchronously, producing large amounts of fruits. The fruits are an important food for chimpanzees and monkeys, locally even the main food. It has been reported that these primates often spit the seeds, dispersing them in this way, but the seeds are also swallowed and dispersed by the dung. It has been noted that seeds from chimpanzee dung germinated, but that those taken directly from trees did not. The fruits are also eaten by elephants. In some forests in Uganda, Uvariopsis congensis is a preferred sleeping tree for chimpanzees.
Uvariopsis comprises about 15 species and is restricted to tropical Africa. It is closely related to Monocyclanthus, which comprises a single species and should possibly be united with Uvariopsis, as has recently been done with Dennettia.
Uvariopsis congensis occurs in evergreen forest up to 1650 m altitude, commonly on valley slopes, but also in riverine forest and forest margins. It is locally common. It is susceptible to drought.
Uvariopsis congensis is shade tolerant. It regenerates under the canopy and in small gaps in the forest. Seedlings usually die in large gaps. Seeds probably need pre-treatment before they can be used as sowing material.
In western Uganda Uvariopsis congensis is a common understorey or mid-storey tree, with a density that locally exceeds 100 trees/ha. It may be common in both unlogged and selectively logged forest, but it attains its maximum abundance in forest areas of minimum disturbance. Adult trees are commonly strongly clumped.
Genetic resources and breeding
Uvariopsis congensis is widely distributed and locally common, also in secondary forest, and is not under threat of genetic erosion.
The use of the wood will remain of limited importance. Uvariopsis congensis is considered important in traditional ceremonies by some African peoples. It also has an ecological function as an important food plant of primates. Pharmacological research seems worthwhile considering the results of preliminary screening for active compounds.
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Correct citation of this article:
Lemmens, R.H.M.J., 2009. Uvariopsis congensis Robyns & Ghesq. In: Lemmens, R.H.M.J., Louppe, D. & Oteng-Amoako, A.A. (Editors). Prota 7(2): Timbers/Bois duvre 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.