A variable plant, three distinct varieties are recognized[
Landolphia droogmansiana De Wild.
Landolphia gentilii De Wild.
Landolphia glaberrima A.Chev. (1908)
Landolphia humilis K.Schum. ex Schltr.
Landolphia kirkii owariensis (P.Beauv.) De Wild. & T.Durand
Landolphia leiocalyx Pichon (1953)
Landolphia mayumbensis Good (1929)
Landolphia miegeana A.Chev. (1948)
Landolphia nigerina A.Chev.
Landolphia pierrei Hua
Landolphia stapfiana Wernham (1913)
Landolphia stolzii Busse (1902)
Landolphia subturbinata Stapf ex Dawe
Landolphia tomentella (Stapf) A.Chev.
Landolphia turbinate Stapf ex A.Chev.
Pacouria owariensis (P.Beauv.) Hiern
Paederia owariensis (P.Beauv.) Spreng.
Vahea owariensis (P.Beauv.) F.Muell.
Common Name: Eta
Eta grows as a shrub in the savannah, but when growing in the forest becomes a huge climbing plant, producing stems that climb over other plants in the forest and can reach a length of 100 metres or more with a basal diameter of 30cm[
The fruit is commonly harvested from the wild and is highly esteemed[
]. Before the days of the monopoly of natural rubber sources by Hevea plantations, this species was a very important source of vine-rubber[
]. It has been exploited as a forest-produce throughout its range, and plantations of it have at times been established elsewhere in Africa[
]. It fell into almost total commercial disuse, though during the 1939 - 45 war it regained an ephemeral interest as a substitute for hevea rubber[
Tropical Africa - Guinea to Sudan, south to Uganda and southern Tanganyika.
A shrub growing in the savannah, or a huge liana of secondary deciduous and dense forests[
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In the Nigerian and Cameroons high-forest, yields of 22 - 180 kg per sq mile of forest (period not stated, but presumably per year) were recorded, and a skilled tapper could obtain 7½ kg per month, at the expense of much dangerous tree-climbing[
This is certainly the commonest of the Landolphia spp. It survives bush-fires, and its rhizomes after a burn often put up a coppice of short shoots which even before becoming lignified will bear flowers and fruits[
The fruits, resembling small oranges, are edible and are esteemed in all areas[
]. It is recorded as a good source of vitamins[
]. In various parts it is fermented to give an alcoholic drink[
The fruits are the size of oranges and have a reddish-brown, woody shell and an agreeable pulp[
]. This pulp is eaten directly, it is also used to season foods and to make tangy fruit drinks and even wine[
]. Typically, the flavour is both sweet and sour at the same time[
Eta is an unusual fruit, but people really like it. Normally, the pulp is merely dumped in water and left to soak a few minutes. Being highly acidic, it makes a lot of beverage. Sugar is added to taste, and the final product conveys a delightful aroma[
The tough and leathery skin is usually opened with a whack of the fist or heel of the hand. (It can be cut open, but latex in the thick outer shell soon gums up the knife.)[
The latex from the stems is used medicinally. It is taken internally as a treatment against intestinal worms, or it may be used as an enema for the same purpose[
The latex is also used in lotions[
The leaves are boiled for application to sprains[
Sap expressed from the leaves is dripped into the eyes and used to wash the patient’s face in a treatment for giddiness and epilepsy[
]. The sap is rubbed with massage into scarifications over areas of oedema and rheumatism[
A decoction of the roots or green fruits is drunk as a purgative and for urethral discharge[
]. The liquid of this preparation is used in steam-baths for feverish aches[
A trace of flavones is reported in the leaves, and tannin, steroids and terpenes in the roots[
A high quality latex, used for making rubber, is obtained from the stems[
]. The normal method of extraction is by incision, but excision tapping as for Hevea has been practised[
]. The latex normally is white but may be red, pink or amber, and when obtained by incision or excision is variable[
]. Usually it coagulates immediately, but at some seasons or at certain places it remains fluid enough to run into a collecting vessel, when coagulation is then done by lime-juice or salt-water[
]. The resultant rubber is of good quality, but latex from some lianas will not coagulate and remains tacky[
]. Local people use the latex to make rubber bands[
The twigs are used as chewsticks[
Seed. For the first couple of years the seedlings are slow growing and remain short and stubby bushes, but they then begin elongating and take on the appearance of vines. At that time they are removed from the nursery and planted in the field. If given a chance, this gumvine grows straight up the trunks of trees, making its way to the top of the forest canopy[
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