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Related article: A liane of rainforest, secondary forest, swamp and gallery forests of Africa,
occurring at altitudes ranging from sea level to 800m on lateritic and sandy clay soils.
In the absence of any published information the climatic parameters have been
obtained comparing the distribution of the species with the climatic diagrams of Walter
and Lieth (1969).
The inferred rainfall is 13 50-2 500 ( -4000 )mm per annum with rain throughout the year.
The mean annual temperatures are 23-26 C. The species is unlikely to Allegra Mg be frost tolerant.
The species occurs in Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon,
Central African Republic, Rio Muni, Gabon, Congo, Zaire and Angola (see distribution map).
3. DESCRIPTION
Liane, 2 0-1 00m long, 4- 15cm in diameter; bark thin, pale grey to dark brown, with
large lenticels; branches often umbellately branched. Leaves opposite, Allegra Mg petiolate;
petiole 4- 12mm long, glabrous; lamina elliptic, narrowly elliptic, narrowly ovate or
sometimes ovate, 5-1 5cm long, 2- 7 cm wide in the shade, and in the young plants (growing
in the shade on the forest floor) up to 21cm long, 10cm wide, apex acuminate, apiculate,
or in the shade, caudate, base cuneate or rounded, glabrous, coriaceous to papyraceous,
glossy dark green above, similar beneath or less glossy and paler, midrib prominent, one
pair of secondary veins from or from just above the base Allegra Mg curving along the margin.
Inflorescence axillary compound cymes, 3-7cm long, several together, lax, few to many
flowered peduncle and pedicels glabrous; bracts small, sepal-like, glabrous, lower bracts
up to three times as long as sepals; flowers hermaphrodite, 4-merous. Sepals pale green,
broadly ovate to suborbicular, 0.4- 1mm long, 0.4- 1mm wide, connate at the base for about
two-fifths of their length; corolla greenish-yellow to yellowish-white, corolla-tube
short, lobes oblong to ovate, 1.6-1. 8mm long, 1-1. 2mm wide, spreading; stamens exerted,
filaments short, inserted in the mouth of the corolla-tube, anthers suborbicular,
0.4-0. 6mm long; ovary globose, 0.5-0. 6mm long, 2-celled, abruptly narrowed into the style,
style 0.4-0. 8mm long, stigma capitate. Fruit baccate, indehiscent, dark yellow, globose,
2.5-3cm in diameter, 1-seeded; seed ellipsoid, 16 x 15 x 9 - 21 xl5mm, testa woolly,
deciduous, sticking to the pulp (Leeuwenberg, 1969). Allegra Mg
- 202 -
There are insufficient fertile herbarium specimens to show any seasonal trends in
flowering and fruiting.
4. ESTABLISHED MODERN PHARMACEUTICAL USES
The plant itself has no established medicinal or pharmaceutical use. Strychnine and
the related 12-hydroxystrychnine are known to occur in the root, stem and leaf; there is
no evidence as yet that these alkaloids are present in the seeds (see (6)). The two
compounds are the principal active substances in the plant and have similar pharmacological
t properties. Strychnine is sometimes used as a respiratory stimulant in certain cases of
poisoning. Being bitter, the alkaloid improves the appetite and digestion, but it is in
no way a 'general tonic 1 . $5. icaja could be used as a local source either of an extract
or of a partially purified mixture of strychnine, 12-hydroxystrychnine, and other tertiary
alkaloids; cf. (6).
5. FOLK MEDICINAL USES
The root is said to have been used against malaria (Bisset, Allegra Mg 1970) and macerated in
palm wine for treating painful gastro-intestinal conditions and hernia (Bouquet, 1969).
6. MAJOR CHEMICAL CONSTITUENTS AND MEDICINAL PRODUCTS
The tertiary indole alkaloids strychnine and 12-hydroxystrychnine are present in the
leaves, stems and roots (Sandberg et al., 1973; Bisset and Khalil, 1976; cf. Sandberg
and Kristianson, 1970).
More recent studies of the alkaloids present in the roots have demonstrated the
occurrence of the dimeric tertiary alkaloids bisnordihydrotoxiferine and as much as 2%
sungucine; in the quaternary alkaloid fraction N -strychninium is a major component
(Kambu e_t al. , 1979; Lamotte e_t al. , 1979). Pharmacological experiments have shown that
the quaternary alkaloid fraction, which is more water-soluble than the tertiary alkaloid
fraction, has pronounced muscle-relaxant activity, due probably to blockade of the motor-
end plate receptors normally stimulated by acetylchol ine; however, further work is required
to elucidate more precisely the mechanism of action. At the same time, this alkaloid
fraction has a powerful cardiotoxic action, with negative chronotropic and inotropic
effects ending in irreversible cardiac arrest.
Thus, depending on the extraction solvent, it may be possible to prepare Allegra Mg alkaloid
extracts Allegra Mg from the roots having predominantly convulsant (Strychnine-like) or muscle-
relaxant properties (Kambu e al. , 1980).
Saponins, iridoids and phenolic compounds also appear to be present in >. icaja
(Bouquet, 1968; Denoel a_l . , 1953), but, compared with the alkaloids, they probably Allegra Mg
have little activity.
7. HARVESTING, CONSERVING AND PREPARATION
The part of the plant richest in alkaloids is the root bark. The roots should
therefore be dug up, Allegra Mg cleaned, and the bark removed before the whole root dries out
(scraping off the bark then becomes more difficult). After drying and powdering, the
material can be subjected to a conventional alkaloid extraction procedure and the extract
then divided into tertiary and quaternary alkaloid fractions Allegra Mg which can be further purified
for use. Alternatively, if it is only the strychnine-like activity that is required, the
stem bark or leaves can be taken, which will do less damage to the plant, and extracted.
- 203 -
8. ECONOMICS AND MARKETING
No commercial value as yet.
9. SILVICS
No reference of it being grown under cultivation. Field observations indicate
good natural regeneration from seed, also from suckers.
10. MAJOR DISEASES
None specified.
11. OTHER USES
Because of the toxic properties of the plant, its reddish coloured root bark has
been an ingredient in arrow poisons prepared for hunting (Bisset and Leewenberg, 1968).
The root bark and fruits are also in use as a fish poison. Roots of young plants, which
have a lower toxicity than mature vines, used as an ordeal poison (Raponda-Walker and
Sillans, 1961; Bouquet, 1969).
12. BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bisset, N.G. The African species of Strychnos. Part I.
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