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Uvariopsis congensis Robyns & Ghesq.

Protologue
Ann. Soc. Sci. Bruxelles, s้r. B, 53: 317 (1933).
Family
Annonaceae
Origin and geographic distribution
Uvariopsis congensis is widespread, from Liberia east to western Kenya, and south to DR Congo and Zambia.
Uses
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.
Properties
Leaf extracts showed cytotoxicity against human KB cancer cell lines, as well as antimalarial activity. Acetogenins have been isolated from the leaves.
Botany
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 2–4 mm long; blade oblong to elliptical-oblong, 5.5–15 cm ื 1.5–6(–7.5) cm, cuneate to rounded at base, obtuse to acuminate at apex, papery, glabrous, pinnately veined with 8–12 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, 1–2 mm in diameter, short-hairy outside; petals 4, free, elliptical to ovate-lanceolate, 0.5–1 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 3–4 mm long. Fruit consisting of 4–6 indehiscent oblong-ellipsoid to cylindrical follicles 1.5–4.5 cm ื 1–2 cm, becoming glabrous, red, slightly constricted between the seeds, each follicle 3–10-seeded. Seeds ellipsoid, slightly flattened, 1–1.5 cm ื 0.5–1 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.
Ecology
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.
Management
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.
Prospects
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.
Major references
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Kenfack, D., Gosline, G., Gereau, R.E. & Schatz, E., 2003. The genus Uvariopsis (Annonaceae) in Troical Africa, with a recombination and one new species from Cameroon. Novon 13: 443–449.
• Verdcourt, B., 1971. Annonaceae. In: Milne-Redhead, E. & Polhill, R.M. (Editors). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 131 pp.
Other references
• Boutique, R., 1951. Annonaceae. In: Robyns, W., Staner, P., Demaret, F., Germain, R., Gilbert, G., Hauman, L., Hom่s, 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’ษtude Agronomique du Congo belge, Brussels, Belgium. pp. 256–389.
• Couvreur, T.L.P., 2008. Revealing the secrets of African Annonaceae. Systematics, evolution and biogeography of the syncarpous genera Isolona and Monodora. PhD thesis Wageningen University, Netherlands. 296 pp.
• Dominy, N.J. & Duncan, B.W., 2005. Seed-spitting primates and the conservation and dispersion of large-seeded trees. International Journal of Primatology 26(3): 631–649.
• Hawthorne, W. & Jongkind, C., 2006. Woody plants of western African forests: a guide to the forest trees, shrubs and lianes from Senegal to Ghana. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, United Kingdom. 1023 pp.
• Kiama, D. & Kiyiapi, J., 2001. Shade tolerance and regeneration of some tree species of a tropical rain forest in Western Kenya. Plant Ecology 156(2): 183–191.
• Krief, S., Hladik, C.M. & Haxaire, C., 2005. Ethnomedicinal and bioactive properties of plants ingested by wild chimpanzees in Uganda. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 101: 1–15.
• Robson, N.K.B., 1960. Annonaceae. In: Exell, A.W. & Wild, H. (Editors). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 1, part 1. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 104–149.
• Terashima, H. & Ichikawa, M., 2003. A comparative ethnobotany of the Mbuti and Efe hunter-gatherers in the Ituri forest, Democratic Republic of Congo. African Study Monographs 24(1–2): 1–168.
Author(s)
• R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands


Editors
• R.H.M.J. Lemmens
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
• D. Louppe
CIRAD, D้partement Environnements et Soci้t้s, Cirad es-dir, Campus international de Baillarguet, TA C-DIR / B (Bโt. 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

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 d’œuvre 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.