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Strophanthus hispidus

Known as ságèrè or iságèrè in Yoruba, this is one of several different kinds of Strophanthus – arrow poison plants - found in the IITA Forest Reserve. Traditionally this species is the most important arrow poison in West and Central Africa...

It was often cultivated for the purpose by pruning the long climbing stems to form a bush which produced more fruits. The compact habit also made it easier to harvest the long woody fruits intact, otherwise they would ripen high in the canopy and split open, allowing the plumed seeds to fly away.

The seeds are very toxic, containing glycosides which are put to good use by the pharmaceutical industry in drugs to stimulate the heart and circulation. To make arrow poison, the seeds are pounded to extract the juice, which is mixed with other ingredients, such as the sap from cactus-like Euphorbia species. It is so potent that when an animal is shot, the heart stops almost instantly. Other parts of the plant are used medicinally to treat snake bite, skin diseases, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and parasites, such as head lice or intestinal worms.

Strophanthus-hispidus

 
PLANT OF THE MONTH

African whitewood (Triplochiton scleroxylon)

The African whitewood (Triplochiton scleroxylon), known as arere in Yoruba and obeche in Bini, is a large fast-growing tree, reaching 65 m (213 ft), usually with a straight trunk and buttresses up to about 8 m (26 ft) high. It belongs to the family Sterculiaceae and is common in semi-deciduous rainforests from Sierra Leone to Gabon and Congo, including secondary forests where it may fill gaps as a pioneer species.

 
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