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Vepris trichocarpa (Engl.) Mziray

Acta Univ. Upsal., Symb. Bot. Upsal. 30(1): 76 (1992).
Teclea trichocarpa (Engl.) Engl. (1895), Teclea gerrardii I.Verd. (1926).
Origin and geographic distribution
Vepris trichocarpa occurs in eastern DR Congo, Rwanda, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and eastern South Africa.
In southern Africa a stem bark decoction is drunk to treat coughs, colds and chest complaints. In Kenya the Kamba people use leaf extracts to treat malaria and as an anthelmintic. The vapour of leaves in hot water is inhaled to treat fever. The Giriama people put the strong-smelling leaves in the nose of their hunting dogs to improve their scenting powers.
From the leaves the following acridone alkaloids were isolated: normelicopicine, arborinine, melicopicine, tecleanthine, and 6-methoxytecleanthine. From the leaves also the furoquinoline alkaloids skimmianine and dictamnine were isolated as well as the triterpenoid α-amyrin. The fruit yielded the acridone alkaloids melicopicine and 1,2,3-trimethoxy-N-methylacridone, and the furoquinoline alkaloid skimmianine. The stem bark yielded the acridone alkaloids tegerrardin A and tegerrardin B, several acridones including arborinine, the furoquinoline evoxine and the acridone precursor tecleanone. The rare cyclobutaquinoline alkaloid cyclomegistine was also isolated.
Normelicopicine and arborinine displayed limited in vitro activities against Plasmodium falciparum strains HB3 and K1. Arborinine and evoxine displayed moderate antiplasmodial activity against the CQS D10 strain of Plasmodium falciparum, with IC50 values of 12.3 and 24.5 μM, respectively. Normelicopicine was found to have some activity against Plasmodium berghei in mice. Normelicopicine was found to have low in vitro cytotoxicity to KB cells (IC50>328 μM). Melicopicine and tecleanthine exhibited mild antifeedant activity against Spodoptera exempta. Furthermore, α-amyrin showed significant antiplasmodial activity (IC50=0.96 μg/ml), normelicopicine and skimmianine showed strong anti-trypanosomal activity against Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense (IC50=5.24 μg/ml) and Trypanosoma cruzi (IC50=14.50 μg/ml), respectively. Normelicopicine also exhibited significant anti-leishmanial activity (IC50=1.08 μg/ml) against Leishmania donovani. Arborinine exhibited moderate cytotoxicity (IC50=12.2 μg/ml) against L-6 myoblast cells.
Evergreen much-branched shrub or tree 2–10(–15) m tall; stem c. 10 cm in diameter; bark grey, smooth, young branchlets short-hairy. Leaves alternate, 3-foliolate, dark green, aromatic when crushed; stipules absent; petiole 1.5–5 cm long, furrowed or flattened above, sometimes narrowly winged, short-hairy; leaflets (sub)sessile, obovate-elliptical to oblanceolate-elliptical, 3–9(–15) cm Χ 1.5–3(–5) cm, the terminal one largest, base cuneate, apex obtuse to acute or notched, short-hairy at veins, glandular-dotted, 8–14 pairs of parallel veins. Inflorescence a short axillary raceme. Flowers unisexual, regular, 4-merous; pedicel up to 1–3(–5) mm long; lobes of calyx 1–1.5 mm long, apex ciliate, petals free, oblong, 2–5 mm Χ 1–2 mm, apex obtuse, ciliate; male flowers with 4 stamens 3–5 mm long, ovary rudimentary up to 2 mm long; female flowers with 4 short staminodes, ovary superior, globose, up to 2 mm long, 4-celled, style 0.5–1 mm long, stigma capitate. Fruit an ellipsoid drupe, 10–14 mm Χ 6–8 mm, base short-hairy, wrinkled, 1-seeded. Seed ellipsoid with a longitudinal groove, 8.5–10 mm Χ 5.5–6.5 mm, dark green to dark brown.
Vepris comprises about 80 species, most of them in mainland Africa, about 30 endemic to Madagascar, and 1 in India. Several other Vepris species are medicinally used in the region. Vepris amaniensis (Engl.) Mziray occurs in Kenya, Tanzania and Mozambique and has unifoliolate leaves. In Tanzania the bitter bark is chewed and the sap swallowed to treat headache.
Vepris eugeniifolia (Engl.) Verdoorn occurs in Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. In Kenya a stem bark infusion is taken to treat malaria. The smoke of green twigs on a fire is applied to treat body pain and hepatitis. In Tanzania a root decoction is drunk to treat kidney troubles. A leaf decoction is taken to treat pneumonia. The wood is used to make walking sticks and clubs.
Vepris uguenensis Engl. occurs in Kenya and Tanzania. In Kenya the Pokot people take a root infusion to treat malaria. Several limonoids and fuoquinoline alkaloids were isolated from the roots. Methyl uguenenoate and the furoquinoline alkaloids flindersiamine, maculosidine and syringaldehyde displayed mild antimalarial activities.
Vepris trichocarpa occurs in coastal forest, dune bush, forest edges and lowland rain forest, riverine forest, dry semi-deciduous forest, especially in rocky localities, from sea-level up to 2300 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Vepris trichocarpa has a large area of distribution and occurs in many different forest types. It seems therefore unlikely that it is threatened by genetic erosion.
The alkaloids isolated from Vepris trichocarpa show interesting properties. However, more research is needed to evaluate their potential.
Major references
• Coombes, P.H., Mwangi, E.M., Peters, B.K., Crouch, N.R. & Mulholland, D.A., 2009. The cyclobuta[b]quinoline alkaloid cyclomegistine from Teclea gerrardii I.Verd. (Toddalioideae: Rutaceae). Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 37(4): 494–496.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1982. Rutaceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. A.A. Balkema, Rotterdam, Netherlands. 52 pp.
• Mwangi, E.S.K., Keriko, J.M., Machocho, A.K., Wanyonyi, A.W., Malebo, H.M., Chhabra, S.C. & Tarus, P.K., 2010. Antiprotozoal activity and cytotoxicity of metabolites from leaves of Teclea trichocarpa. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research 4(9): 726–731.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Waffo, A.F., Coombes, P.H., Crouch, N.R., Mulholland, D.A., El Amin, S.M. & Smith, P.J., 2007. Acridone and furoquinoline alkaloids from Teclea gerrardii (Rutaceae: Toddalioideae) of southern Africa. Phytochemistry 68(5): 663–667.
Other references
• Beentje, H.J., 1994. Kenya trees, shrubs and lianas. National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya. 722 pp.
• Cheplogoi, P.K., Mulholland, D.A., Coombes, P.H. & Randrianarivelojosia, M., 2008. An azole, an amide and a limonoid from Vepris uguenensis (Rutaceae). Phytochemistry 69(6): 1384–1388.
• Hedberg, I., Hedberg, O., Madati, P.J., Mshigeni, K.E., Mshiu, E.N. & Samuelsson, G., 1983. Inventory of plants used in traditional medicine in Tanzania. Part III. Plants of the families Papilionaceae-Vitaceae. Journal of Ethnopharmacology 9: 237–260.
• Ichikawa, M., 1987. A preliminary report on the ethnobotany of the Suiei Dorobo in northern Kenya. African Study Monographs, Supplement 7: 1–52.
• Kokwaro, J.O., 1993. Medicinal plants of East Africa. 2nd Edition. Kenya Literature Bureau, Nairobi, Kenya. 401 pp.
• Lwande, W., Gebreyesus, T., Chapya, A., Macfoy, C., Hassanali, A. & Okech, M., 1983. 9-Acridone insect antifeedant alkaloids from Teclea trichocarpa bark. Insect Science and its Application 4(4): 393–395.
• Muriithi, M.W., Abraham, W.R., Addae-Kyereme, J., Scowen, I., Croft, S.L., Gitu, P.M., Kendrick, H., Njagi, E.N.M. & Wright, C.W., 2002. Isolation and in vitro antiplasmodial activities of alkaloids from Teclea trichocarpa: in vivo antimalarial activity and X-ray crystal structure of normelicopicine. Journal of Natural Products 65(7): 956–959.
• Watt, J.M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G., 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. 2nd Edition. E. and S. Livingstone, London, United Kingdom. 1457 pp.
• G.H. Schmelzer
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands

• 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, Rιduit, 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:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2011. Vepris trichocarpa (Engl.) Mziray. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes mιdicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild