Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2
Acta Univ. Upsal., Symb. Bot. Upsal. 30(1): 76 (1992).
Araliopsis tabouensis Aubrév. & Pellegr. (1936).
Chicken popo (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Vepris tabouensis is found throughout West Africa, from Sierra Leone, Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Ghana to Nigeria.
Throughout West Africa sap from the hot bitter stem bark is applied to cutaneous and subcutaneous parasitic infections, including yaws and and craw-craw, and venereal diseases. An extract of the stem bark is taken for pulmonary troubles. In Côte d’Ivoire a bark infusion is taken to treat gonorrhoea and as a febrifuge.
The wood is sometimes used as timber. Freshly sawn, the timber has a strong smell.
Alkaloids have been found to be the major compounds in the root and stem bark. They are mainly of the quinoline type. Several indoloquinazolidine-type alkaloids from the stem bark, including the pyranoquinolines tabouensinium chloride and araliopsine, showed significant antimalarial activities against Plasmodium falciparum D6 and W2 clones, with IC50 values ranging from 1.8–4.7 μg/ml. Minor alkaloids include araliopsinine, araliopdimerines A, B, and C, the furoquinolines skimmianine, halfordinine and isoplatydesmine, the pyranoquinoline ribalinine and the indoloquinazolines evodiamine and rhetsinine. Triterpenes such as flindisol, lupeol and β-sitosterol glucoside and a coumarin, scophone, have also been identified.
Evodiamine is commercially produced through chemical synthesis or by extraction from plants (including Evodia spp. and Zanthoxylum spp.). A patent has been approved using evodiamine in a pharmaceutical composition for improving lipid metabolism.
Sapwood nearly white; heart wood yellowish to pinkish white, hard. Slash aromatic, turning brown on exposure. Outer and inner bark demarcated by a bright yellow ring.
Medium-sized evergreen tree up to 30(–40) m tall; trunk cylindrical, bole straight, bark thick, rough, grey-black, buttresses small, base with heavy root swellings up to 80 cm high, sometimes with spreading surface roots. Leaves alternate, (3–)5-foliolate, digitately arranged; stipules absent; petiole 5–20 cm long; petiolule 1–2 cm long; leaflets obovate-oblong to obovate, 8–27 cm × 3.5–10.5 cm, glandular-dotted, parallel veins numerous. Inflorescence an axillary (female) or terminal (male), hairy panicle, many-flowered. Flowers unisexual, regular, 4-merous; pedicel up to 4 mm long; outside of sepals and petals green, petals inside white, free, obovate; male flowers with 8 stamens, white, ovary rudimentary; female flowers with superior, globose ovary, 4-celled, stamens rudimentary. Fruit an ovoid drupe, black when ripe, glandular dotted, usually 4-seeded.
Vepris comprises about 80 species, most of them in mainland Africa, about 30 endemic to Madagascar, and 1 in India. Most Teclea spp. have become synonyms of Vepris spp., except Teclea natalensis (Sond.) Engl. Of the remaining Teclea spp. the status is uncertain.
Vepris tabouensis is very similar to Vepris soyauxii (Engl.) Mziray, which occurs from Nigeria south to Gabon. They might be conspecific although the nervation and apex of leaflets seem to be different. From the stem and root bark of trees from Gabon several alkaloids have been isolated, similar to those from Vepris tabouensis, including flindersiamine, ribalinine and isoplatydesmine. Thirty-nine compounds were identified in the essential oil obtained from leaves collected in Cameroon. The oil was characterized by a high content of α-pinene (25.5%), δ -elemene (8.3%), β-bourbonene (3.8%) and β-elemene (3.8%).
Vepris tabouensis occurs in rain forest and moist semi-deciduous forest; often in groups and on plateaux mixed with Lophira alata Banks ex C.F.Gaertn. at low altitudes.
Genetic resources and breeding
Vepris tabouensis occurs throughout the forests of West Africa, and possibly, if Vepris soyauxii is included, also in Cameroon and Gabon. It does not seem to be in danger of genetic erosion, although habitat loss might be a problem in the near future.
Further research to establish the pharmacological properties and safety profiles of the isolated compounds needs to be conducted.
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Correct citation of this article:
Matu, E.N., 2011. Vepris tabouensis (Aubrév. & Pellegr.) Mziray. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.