Origin and geographic distribution Adenia lobata occurs from Senegal east to Ethiopia and south to Angola and Mozambique.
Uses Adenia lobata is widely used in traditional medicine. Young, lightly roasted leaves are applied and then covered with leaves to treat abscesses. In Senegal leafy stems are dry-heated and applied to Guinea worm sores to extract the worms. The Tenda people of Senegal prepare a soup from the leaves to treat fever in children and they also wash the patients with the leaf decoction. In Côte d’Ivoire and Congo the leaves are eaten with palm oil and salt to treat palpitations. The leaf sap is applied topically or as an enema against rheumatic, rib and abdominal pains and a macerate of leafy twigs in water is taken to treat cough, bronchitis and fever. Sap of leaves and stems is used to treat trypanosomiasis and is applied to insect bites. Pulped twigs administered as an enema are used as a diuretic and to treat jaundice and fainting. To facilitate childbirth, a root maceration or the stem sap is drunk. The stem sap is also taken to treat gastrointestinal problems; it is rubbed in to treat headache, a stiff neck and dropped in the ear to treat inflammation of the ear. A leaf extract as enema is used as a strong purgative. The Ebrié people of Côte d’Ivoire use a maceration of crushed leaves in water as an enema to treat fever attacks. In Ghana the leaves are locally applied to treat haemorrhoids. In Togo a twig decoction is drunk and used in a bath to treat malaria. In Nigeria and Côte d’Ivoire the stem pulp is used as an enema and taken orally as an aphrodisiac and to treat gonorrhoea. A leaf decoction is taken to treat cough, bronchitis and fever.
In Gabon root powder, together with powdered Capsicum annuum L. and seeds of Aframomum melegueta K.Schum., is sniffed to treat nasal tumours. In DR Congo a leaf decoction is drunk to treat insanity and a twig extract is drunk or applied as an enema to treat gonorrhoea and abdominal pain. Bark scrapings are ground in water and massaged into the head to treat head lice, and root scrapings are applied to wounds. In Sierra Leone, Côte d’Ivoire and Gabon the sap of the stem is used as an arrow poison and to kill rats and street dogs. The stem, stem bark, fruit or sap are used for fish poisoning in West and Central Africa, and in Tanzania and Angola.
In DR Congo the finely cut and cooked leaves of Adenia lobata are eaten as a vegetable. The liquid from the stem can be drunk. In Príncipe Island a fibre is produced from the stem, and in DR Congo the stem serves as rope. In Cameroon sections of the stem are used as sponges.
Properties The stem and leaves of Adenia lobata contain cyanogenic glycosides. Gynocardin or a closely related substance was detected in Adenia lobata. Dried leaves from Cameroon contained the flavonoids 2’’-xylosylvitexin, vitexin, violanthin, vicenin-2 and schaftoside.
Description Large liana, usually dioecious, with stem up to 45 m long and up to 12 cm in diameter, smooth or with tubercles; bark green to red-brown; sap clear, turning red; stems with simple or 3(–7)-fid tendrils up to 25 cm long. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules triangular, 0.5–1 mm long, soon falling; petiole up to 15 cm long; blade entire or sinuate to palmately 3–5(–7)-lobed, elliptical to ovate or orbicular in outline, 4–25 cm × 2–20 cm, base deeply cordate, apex acuminate, with 2 glands at base of blade and up to 16 glands on lower leaf surface. Inflorescence an axillary cyme, usually with 1–3 tendrils up to 20 cm long, up to 30-flowered in male, up to 10-flowered in female inflorescence; peduncle up to 12 cm long; bracts and bracteoles triangular to oblong, 1–2 mm long. Flowers unisexual, regular, 5-merous, yellowish; pedicel 5–40 mm long; calyx with tube (5–)7–15 mm long and triangular, 7–15 mm long lobes; petals free; corona consisting of a fringe of hairs; male flowers with spoon-shaped to elliptical-oblong petals, 4–13 mm long, margins fringed, filaments of stamens fused at base, included, ovary rudimentary; female flowers with linear to spoon-shaped petals, 5–9 mm long, acute, margins fringed or entire, ovary superior, ovoid to ellipsoid, 4–8 mm long, styles 3, fused at base, arms up to 5 mm long, stigmas kidney-shaped, densely woolly papillate, stamens rudimentary. Fruit an obovoid to globular or ellipsoid capsule 3–8 cm long, leathery or fleshy, yellow, smooth or lumpy, 20–150-seeded. Seeds broadly ellipsoid to orbicular, c. 5 mm long, pitted.
Other botanical information Adenia comprises about 95 species, with about 60 species on the African continent, 20 in Madagascar and 15 in Asia. The genus is subdivided in 6 sections. Adenia lobata belongs to section Blepharanthes. A more robust type of Adenia lobata has been described as Adenia miegei Aké Assi, but this is now considered to be the tetraploid form.
Growth and development In West Africa Adenia lobata flowers throughout the year but fruits are mainly present from July to November. It regenerates rapidly after bush fires.
Ecology Adenia lobata occurs in rainforest, secondary forest, forest edges, gallery forest, periodically inundated and marshy forest and on rocky outcrops from sea-level up to 1800 m altitude.
Propagation and planting Adenia lobata can be grown from seeds or cuttings. The plant grows rapidly and can be trained to grow over a pergola in a similar fashion to passion fruit.
Management Because the plant is not common in the Mount Nimba area of Liberia, Mano people protect it for its fish-poisoning property.
Diseases and pests Adenia lobata is a host plant of passion fruit ring spot virus (PFRSV), to which Passiflora edulis Sims is very susceptible.
Handling after harvest The harvested parts are usually used fresh for medicinal purposes after collection from the wild.
Genetic resources Adenia lobata is widespread in a range of habitats, very common in its area of distribution and is not in danger of genetic erosion.
Prospects Adenia lobata is widely used in local medicine. Surprisingly little is known about the properties, and more research into the chemical composition and pharmacological activities of the compounds seems warranted.
Major references • 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.
• de Wilde, W.J.J.O., 1971. A monograph of the genus Adenia Forsk. (Passifloraceae). Mededelingen Landbouwhogeschool Wageningen 71–18. Wageningen, Netherlands. 281 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
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• de Wilde, W.J.J.O., 1975. Passifloraceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 71 pp.
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• Kerharo, J., Guichard, F. & Bouquet, A., 1961. Les végétaux ichtyotoxiques (poisons de pêche), 2ème partie : inventaire des poisons de pêche. Bulletins et Mémoires de l’École Nationale de Médecine et de Pharmacie de Dakar 9: 355–386.
• Konda, K., Mbembe, B., Bavukinina, N. & Itufa, Y., 1992. Contribution à l’inventaire des plantes alimentaires spontanées au Zaïre. Al Biruniya, Revue Marocaine de Pharmacognosie, d’Etude Ethnomédicales et de Botanique Appliquée 8(2): 97–109.
• Latham, P., 2004. Useful plants of Bas-Congo province, Democratic Republic of the Congo. DFID, London, United Kingdom. 320 pp.
• Neuwinger, H.D., 1998. Afrikanische Arzneipflanzen und Jagdgifte. Chemie, Pharmakologie, Toxikologie. 2nd Edition. Wissenschaftliche Verlagsgesellschaft mbH, Stuttgart, Germany. 960 pp.
Sources of illustration • de Wilde, W.J.J.O., 1975. Passifloraceae. In: Polhill, R.M. (Editor). Flora of Tropical East Africa. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London, United Kingdom. 71 pp.
Department of Biology, National University of Lesotho, P.O. Roma 180, Lesotho
A. de Ruijter
PROTA Network Office Europe, Wageningen University, P.O. Box 341, 6700 AH Wageningen, Netherlands
1, part of older stem; 2, part of male flowering stem; 3, part of female flowering stem; 4, male flower in longitudinal section; 5, female flower in longitudinal section; 6, fruit; 7, seed.
Redrawn and adapted by Iskak Syamsudin