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Vepris verdoorniana (Exell & Mendonça) Mziray

Acta Univ. Upsal., Symb. Bot. Upsal. 30(1): 76 (1992).
Teclea verdoorniana Exell & Mendonça (1951).
Origin and geographic distribution
Vepris verdoorniana occurs from Sierra Leone east to western Cameroon and São Tomé & Principe and further to Gabon, Central African Republic, eastern DR Congo and west Uganda.
Various parts of Vepris verdoorniana are used in traditional medicine in West Africa. In Côte d’Ivoire the very bitter stem bark is chewed to treat colds. The sap from the young leaves is used as eye drops to treat conjunctivitis. A root bark decoction is taken to treat arterial hypertension. For treatment of coughs, dry pulverised root-bark is mixed with powdered Capsicum fruit and honey and taken orally. Pulverized root bark is taken to treat tapeworm. In Ghana stem bark is chewed to treat cough.
In Côte d’Ivoire the pounded stem bark is thrown in streams as a fish poison.
The young twigs are popularly used as chew sticks. In Uganda the wood is used to make walking sticks, spear shafts, bark-cloth mallets, tool handles and inlay work. Leafy twigs contain a resin, which is inflammable, and twigs are bundled to serve as torches.
Several alkaloids have been isolated from the stem bark of Vepris verdoorniana, including nkolbisine (a furoquinoline alkaloid), 7-deacetylazadirone, flindersiamine, kokusaginine, teclanone, tecleaverdine, tecleaverdoorine, tecleine, 4,6,7, 8-tetramethoxyfurol and 2,3-β-quinoline. A pentacyclic triterpene lupeol has also been isolated from the stem bark in large amounts. Other alkaloids isolated from the stem and root barks of Vepris verdoornina are flindissol and furoquinoline alkaloids.
Wood yellowish-white, dense and hard, not holding nails, but turning well.
Shrub or small tree up to 22 m tall; trunk up to 1.2 m in circumference, crown spreading, branchlets grey, longitudinally striped. Leaves alternate, sometimes opposite, 3-foliolate, with penetrating smell; stipules absent; petiole 1–7 cm long, narrowly winged; leaflets almost sessile, narrowly elliptical to oblanceolate, 4.5–21 cm × 1.2–8 cm, base cuneate, apex acuminate, glandular-dotted, parallel veins numerous. Inflorescence an axillary or terminal short-hairy panicle, many-flowered, up to 4 cm long. Flowers bisexual, regular, 4-merous; pedicel short; sepals tiny; petals free, obovate, 1.5–2 mm long, greenish white, stamens white, ovary superior, globose, 4-celled. Fruit an oblong-ellipsoid drupe, c. 8 mm × c. 4 mm.
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., which is medicinally used in South Africa. Of the remaining Teclea spp. the status is uncertain, including the status of Teclea oubanguensis Aubrév. & Pellegr., which occurs in Cameroon and the Central African Republic. It is closely related to Vepris nobilis (Delile) Mziray and probably belongs to Vepris, In northern Cameroon a stem bark extract is taken as a remedy for coughs and asthma. The stem bark yielded 6 triterpenoids, including 7-deacetylazadirone, 7-deacetylproceranone, tecleanin, ouabanginone and lupeol.
Several other Vepris species are medicinally used in West and Central Africa. Vepris louisii G.C.C.Gilbert occurs in Cameroon, Congo and DR Congo. In Congo the leaf pulp is rubbed on the skin to treat skin diseases and fungal problems. The leaf pulp is also used as a poultice on the head to treat lice. The wood is hard and made into bows and shafts. The water-soluble alkaloid fraction of the stem bark shows significant antibacterial activity. The compound responsible for the activity is the quaternary dihydrofuroquinoline alkaloid veprisinium salt. The stem bark further yielded the 2-quinolone alkaloids N-methylpreskimmianine and veprisine, as well as 1-hydroxyrutaecarpine and veprisilone. Vepris afzelii (Engl.) Mziray occurs from Guinea east to Cameroon and Gabon. In Cameroon extracts of the stem bark are used in the treatment of wound infections, abdominal pain, cough, fever and asthma. The ripe fruits are said to be edible. The stem bark yields the furoquinoline alkaloids kokusaginine, tecleaverdoornine, maculine, kolbusine and montrifoline together with the terpenoid lupeol and β-sitosterol glucopyranoside. The alkaloids showed moderate activity against growth of Plasmodium falciparum in vitro. Kokusaginine showed significant antimicrobial activity against a range of Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria and fungi. Kolbusine and maculine showed moderate activity against most test organisms.
Another Vepris species with edible fruits is Vepris samburuensis Kokwaro, which is endemic to Kenya. The wood is used to make ax handles.
Vepris verdoorniana is locally common as undergrowth in deciduous forest, in transition and savannah woodland, at 200–1400 m altitude.
Genetic resources and breeding
Vepris verdoorniana is locally common in the dry forests of West Africa and does not seem to be in danger of genetic erosion, although habitat loss might be a problem in the near future.
The pharmacological properties and safety profiles of the alkaloids isolated from Vepris verdoorniana need to be established.
Major references
• Adu-Tutu, M., Afful, Y., Asante-Appiah, K., Lieberman, D., Hall, J.B. & Elvin-Lewis, M., 1979. Chewing stick usage in southern Ghana. Economic Botany 33(3): 320–328.
• 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.
• Mziray, W., 1992. Taxonomic studies in Toddalieae Hook. f. (Rutaceae) in Africa. Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, Symbolae Botanicae Upsalienses 30(1): 1–95.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
• Waterman, P.G., 1973. Alkaloids and triterpenes from the african Toddalioideae. Biochemical Systematics and Ecology 1(3): 153–161.
Other references
• Ayafor, J.F. & Okogun, J.I., 1982. Isolation and identification of 3 new phenolic furoquinoline alkaloids from Teclea verdoorniana, Rutaceae. Journal of the Chemical Society Perkin Transactions 1(4): 909–916.
• Ayafor, J.F., Sondengam, B.L., Bilon, A.N. & Connolly, J.D., 1986. Limonoids of Teclea ouabanguiensis. Journal of Natural Products 49(4): 583–587.
• Ayafor, J.F., Sondengam, B.L. & Ngadjui, B.T., 1982. Veprisinium salt - a novel antibacterial quaternary alkaloid from Vepris louisii. Planta Medica 44(3) 139–142.
• Bouquet, A. & Fournet, A., 1975. Recherches récentes sur les plantes médicinales congolaises. Fitoterapia 46(6): 243–246.
• Keay, R.W.J., 1958. Rutaceae. In: Keay, R.W.J. (Editor). Flora of West Tropical Africa. Volume 1, part 2. 2nd Edition. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. pp. 683–689.
• Kuete, V., Wansi, J.D., Mbaveng, A.T., Sop, M.M.K., Tadjong, A.T., Beng, V.P., Etoa, F.X., Wandji, J., Meyer, J.J.M. & Lall, N., 2008. Antimicrobial activity of the methanolic extract and compounds from Teclea afzelii (Rutaceae). South African Journal of Botany 74(4): 572–576.
• 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.
• Vivien, J. & Faure, J.J., 1996. Fruitiers sauvages d’Afrique: espèces du Cameroun. Ministère Français de la Coopération, Paris, France & CTA, Wageningen, Netherlands. 416 pp.
• Wansi, J.D., Hussain, H., Tcho, A.T., Kouam, S.F., Specht, S., Sarite, S.R., Hoerauf, A. & Krohn, K., 2010. Antiplasmodial activities of furoquinoline alkaloids from Teclea afzelii. Phytotherapy Research 24(5): 775–777.
• Waterman, P.G., 1975. Tecleanone from Diphasia klaineana and Teclea verdoorniana. Phytochemistry 14(9): 2092–2093.
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 verdoorniana (Exell & Mendonça) Mziray. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.
Distribution Map wild