Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2
Mem. Acad. Sci. (Paris) 67: 30 (1948).
Origin and geographic distribution
Vepris ampody is endemic to eastern Madagascar.
The bitter stem bark is used for making alcoholic drinks commonly used during circumcision rituals as an euphoretic, aphrodisiac and stimulant. A stem bark decoction is taken as a fortifier in cases of malaria. A decoction of the leaf and bark is mixed with several other plants and taken to relieve malarial symptoms, tiredness, muscular aches and pains.
The wood is considered good for construction purposes and pattern making of luxury goods.
Several alkaloids have been isolated from the leaves and branches, including the furanoquinoline kokusaginine, the acridones evoxanthine and 2,4-dimethoxy-10-methylacridan-9-one, N,N-dimethyltryptamine, acronycine and phenylacetamide, as well as some 4-quinolone alkaloids. Acronycine showed significant anti-tumour activity in vitro.
Different stem bark extracts showed moderate antimalarial effects when used as an additive to chloroquine.
Evergreen small to medium-sized tree up to 15(–20) m tall; twigs slightly short-hairy. Leaves alternate, 3-foliolate; stipules absent; petiole 3–25 mm long; petiolule 1–10 mm long; leaflets oblanceolate, 3.3–9 cm × 1.2–3.5 cm, attenuate at base, acute or obtuse at apex, margin entire, below slightly short-hairy, with numerous reddish glandular dots, pinnately veined with numerous lateral veins. Inflorescence a small axillary panicle. Flowers unisexual, regular, 4-merous; pedicel 1–3 mm long; sepals tiny; petals free, ovate, c. 3 mm × 2 mm; male flowers with 8 stamens as long as petals and rudimentary ovary; female flowers with superior, globose ovary, 2-celled, with sessile, disk-shaped stigma, stamens rudimentary. Fruit not known.
Vepris comprises about 80 species, most of them in mainland Africa, about 30 endemic to Madagascar, and 1 in India. Several other Vepris species with 2-celled ovaries have similar medicinal uses in Madagascar.
The bitter stem bark of Vepris decaryana H.Perrier, Vepris fitoravina H.Perrier, Vepris lepidota Capuron, Vepris pilosa (Baker) I.Verd., Vepris punctata (I.Verd.) Mziray and Vepris calcicola H.Perrier is also used for making alcoholic drinks commonly used during circumcision rituals as an euphoretic, aphrodisiac and stimulant.
A leaf decoction of Vepris fitoravina is furthermore taken as an astringent, and a stem bark decoction is taken as a fortifier in cases of malaria. Four acridone alkaloids were isolated from the leaves, including arborinine and evoxanthine. Different stem bark extracts showed moderate antimalarial effects when used as an additive to chloroquine.
A leaf infusion of Vepris leandriana H.Perrier is locally applied as a disinfectant. The oil from the leaves was found to contain α-terpinene (4.7–9%), neral (19.5–21.8%), geranial (27–33%) and citronellol (33.2–33.6%).
The oil showed significant antimicrobial activity against a range of pathogenic bacteria. The aromatic stem bark decoction of Vepris lepidota is furthermore taken to treat fatigue and depression. The fruit is edible.
The stem bark and leaves of Vepris pilosa are exported to China and South-East Asia, where extracts are popular for making anise-flavoured mouthwash. The root bark contained several furoquinoline alkaloids, including kokusaginine.
As female flowers are unknown for Vepris punctata, it is not known whether it has a 2-celled or 4-celled ovary. A stem bark extract is taken to treat nausea, whooping cough and colic in children. A methanolic stem bark extract yielded several furoquinoline alkaloids, including flindersiamine, kokusaginine, maculine and skimmianine, and several other compounds, including glechomanolide, isogermafurenolide, α-amyrin, lupeol, lupeyl acetate, taraxerol and 3-epi-taraxerol. All the isolated compounds were tested against the A2780 human ovarian cancer cell line. The alkaloids showed moderate cytotoxic activity, while the other compounds were inactive.
Vepris ampody occurs in humid forest, from sea-level up to 600(–1000) m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Vepris ampody occurs in a rather restricted area of Madagascar, and the humid forests in which it grows are under severe pressure. Therefore it seems likely that Vepris ampody is threatened by genetic erosion.
Vepris ampody contains several interesting alkaloids, which merit further research. Further research to establish the pharmacological properties and safety profiles of the isolated compounds also needs to be conducted.
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Correct citation of this article:
Matu, E.N., 2011. Vepris ampody H.Perrier. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.