A climbing plant, growing into the surrounding vegetation. The leaves and flowers are easy to make out, but there are also a few seed capsules if you look carefully
Photograph by: Ehoarn Bidault
Strophanthus sarmentosus is a deciduous plant that sometimes grows as a shrub with long trailing stems but is more commonly a vigorous climbing plant producing stems up to 40 metres long that twine into the surrounding trees for support[
]. The stems are up to 15cm in diameter[
The plant is gathered from the wild for local medicinal use and as a source of fibre and weaving material. It is also cultivated in China as a medicinal plant[
]. The plant is highly valued for its beautiful flowers and is sometimes grown as an ornamental. However, it is quite difficult to propagate and so is not often found in cultivation[
The seed is used to make arrow poison, especially in the drier parts of Africa where the species more commonly used (Strophanthus hispidus) is scarce or absent[
Tropical Africa - Senegal to Uganda, south to Angola and DR Congo.
Rain forest, gallery forest and thickets, at elevations from sea-level up to 1,400 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Cultivated, Ornamental, Wild
The plant produces stolons[
The plant is often used in traditional medicine throughout West Africa.
In the early 1950's the fruits, generally mixed with those of other Strophanthus spp., were collected and exported on a large scale from West Africa as raw material for the production of cortisone. Since then, easier methods of making this compound have been found, and collection stopped as quickly as it had started[
A root decoction is taken to treat gonorrhoea and leprosy[
]. A macerate of pounded roots is taken on an empty stomach to treat painful joints and hernia[
]. The powdered roots, cooked together with the grains of Digitaria exilis, are taken to treat flatulence with constipation, without causing painful purging[
The crushed seeds are applied to the head to kill lice, and to the skin to treat scabies[
A leaf decoction is used as an eye drop to treat conjunctivitis and trachoma. A decoction of the twigs is taken to treat rheumatoid arthritis, while the leaf sap is drunk and the bark macerate used as an enema to treat venereal diseases. They are considered diuretic and soothing. A leaf decoction is taken as emetic and to treat diarrhoea, whereas a root decoction is taken as vermifuge or to restore strength[
A leaf decoction mixed with other plants is taken as a remedy against snakebites. In Congo the stems and leaves are used to make steam baths and infusions against rheumatism[
The latex is applied to wounds and sores as a cicatrizant[
The bark is used to make ropes, hats and mats[
The stems are used to make bows[
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