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Vepris heterophylla (Engl.) Letouzey

Adansonia sér. 2, 6: 246, cum descr. emend. (1966).
Teclea heterophylla Engl. (1915), Teclea sudanica A.Chev. (1933), Vepris sudanica (A.Chev.) Letouzey (1961).
Vernacular names
Kinkéliba de Kita, kinkéliba de Boulouli, kinkéliba des pčres, kinkéliba des roches (Fr).
Origin and geographic distribution
Vepris heterophylla occurs in Mali, Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon.
The leaves of Vepris heterophylla are aromatic, piquant and bitter. In Mali a leaf extract is taken as a diuretic, antipyretic, to treat conjunctivitis and to reduce high blood pressure. In Cameroon the leaves are used traditionally in crop protection for the reduction of post-harvest losses due to insect pests. The real ‘kinkéliba’ is Combretum micranthum G.Don (Combretaceae), which is renowned for its traditional medicinal use to treat malaria.
Production and international trade
In Mali the leaves are commonly sold in local markets.
The essential oil obtained from the leaves of Vepris heterophylla contained about 35 compounds, mainly alkaloids, triterpenes and flavonoids. The number and quantity of these compounds differ with the age, freshness and the origin of the plants. Several furoquinoline alkaloids were isolated: maculine, skimmianine, kokusaginine, flindersiamine, evolatine, tecleine and tecleaverdoornine. Other isolated components are: trans-sinapic acid methyl ester, isovitexin 2”-O-glucoside, vitexin 2”-O-glucoside, vitexin 7-O-acylscoparin, chrysoeriol 7-glucoside, chrysoeriol 7-rhamnosylgalactoside, abinene, E-ocimene, E-caryophyllene, E-humulene, elemol, germacrene and safrole, as well as the C12-hydrocarbons geijerene and pregeijerene.
Flindersiamine, skimmianine and maculine were also isolated from the stem bark, as well as the quaternary phenylethylamine candicine and the pentacyclic triterpene lupeol.
Freshly harvested plants (originating from Cameroon) yielded an essential oil containing mainly sabinene (3–12%), δ-cadinene, β-elemene, β-caryophyllene, germacrene-D-4-ol and α-cadinol. The essential oil from plants harvested longer ago mainly contained sabinene (25–29%). From plants from different locations in Mali, one sample contained mainly sabinene (19.1%) and β-ocimene, whereas another sample mainly yielded E-caryophyllene (3.1%) and safrole (3%), and α-humulene, elemol and germacrene as minor components. The sabinene containing oil showed higher insecticidal properties than the other one.
A methanol extract of the leaves exhibited high free radical scavenging activities with IC50 = 204.7 μg/ml. The essential oil also showed significant protection of stored grain against the flour beetle Tribolium castaneum.
Shrub 2–4 m high, branching from the base, with a rounded, fairly dense crown; bark grey, more or less smooth, with brownish or yellowish slash. Leaves alternate, usually 3-foliolate; stipules absent; petiole 2–4 cm long; leaflets sessile, narrowly elliptical, 4–10(–12) cm × (2–)3.5(–5) cm, acute-cuneate at base, apex long-acuminate, margin entire, glabrous, with numerous glandular dots, pinnately veined with 12–18 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a terminal panicle on young branches, 3–4 cm long, few-flowered. Flowers unisexual, regular, 4-merous, c. 3 mm in diameter; pedicel 1–5 mm long; sepals united at base, ciliate; petals free, greenish yellow; male flowers with 4 stamens and rudimentary ovary; female flowers with superior, globose ovary, 1-celled, stamens rudimentary. Fruit a slightly depressed globose drupe 0.8–1(–1.5) cm in diameter, yellow or red when ripe, smooth or slightly grainy, usually 4-seeded.
Vepris comprises about 80 species, most of them in mainland Africa, about 30 endemic to Madagascar, and 1 in India.
Vepris heterophylla occurs in dry forest, on rocky hills in savannas, on hill slopes with granite boulders and along temporary river banks. It flowers during the second half of the dry season or at the start of the rainy season.
Genetic resources and breeding
Destruction and reduction of the habitat due to expansion of agriculture, the effects of fire and overgrazing resulting in reduction of its habitat have led to genetic erosion of Vepris heterophylla. It is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List.
The leaves of Vepris heterophylla contain many biologically interesting compounds, which deserve further research. Its traditional use as febrifuge also deserves more attention. Immediate action is needed for in-situ conservation of the remaining natural stands.
Major references
• Arbonnier, M., 2002. Arbres, arbustes et lianes des zones sčches d’Afrique de l’Ouest. CIRAD, MNHN, UICN. 573 pp.
• Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa. 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969 pp.
• Hawthorne, W., 2010. Vepris heterophylla. In: IUCN. 2010 Red list of threatened species. [Internet] Accessed September 2010.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Ngamo, T.S.L., Noudjou, W.F., Ngassoum, M.B., Mapongmestsem, P.M., Boubakary, A.B., Malaisse, F., Haubruge, E., Lognay, G. & Hance, T., 2007. Investigations on both chemical composition and insecticidal activities of essential oils of Vepris heterophylla (Rutaceae) from two localities of northern Cameroon towards Tribolium castaneum (Herbst) (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae). Research Journal of Biological Sciences 2(1): 57–61.
Other references
• Fish, F., Meshal, I.A. & Waterman, P.G., 1977. The alkaloids of a Ghanaian Teclea species: Teclea sudanica. Fitoterapia 48(4): 170–172.
• Gomes, E., Dellamonica, G., Gleye, J., Moulis, C., Chopin, J. & Stanislas, E., 1983. Phenolic compounds from Vepris heterophylla. Phytochemistry 22(11): 2628–2629.
• Gomes, E.T., Travert, S., Gleye, J., Moulis, C., Fouraste, I. & Stanislas, E., 1994. Furoquinoline alkaloids from Vepris heterophylla. Planta Medica 60(4): 388.
• Momeni, J., Djialeu Ntchatchoua, W.P., Fadimatou, M.T.A. & Ngassoum, M.B., 2010. Antioxidant activities of some Cameroonian plants extracts used in the treatment of intestinal and infectious diseases. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 72(1): 140–144.
• Moulis, C., Fouraste, I., Keita, A. & Bessiere, J.M., 1994. Composition of the leaf essential oil from Vepris heterophylla R.Let. Flavour and Fragrance Journal 9(1): 35–37.
• Ngamo, T.S.L., Ngassoum, M.B., Mapongmestsem, P.M., Noudjou, W.F., Malaisse, F., Haubruge, E., Lognay, G., Kouninki, H. & Hance, T., 2007. Use of essential oils of aromatic plants as protectant of grains during storage. Agricultural Journal 2(2): 204–209.
• Sidibé, L., Chalchat, J.C., Garry, R.P. & Harama, M., 2001. Aromatic plants of Mali (VI): chemical composition of essential oil of Vepris heterophylla (Engl.). Journal of Essential Oil Research 13(3): 183–184.
E.N. Matu
CTMDR/KEMRI, P.O. Box 54840–00200, Nairobi, Kenya

G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
A. Gurib-Fakim
Faculty of Science, University of Mauritius, Réduit, Mauritius
Associate editors
R. Arroo
Leicester School of Pharmacy, Natural Products Research, De Montfort University, The Gateway, Leicester LE1 9BH, United Kingdom

Correct citation of this article:
Matu, E.N., 2011. Vepris heterophylla (Engl.) Letouzey. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild