Strophanthus speciosus

Katherine is the author of today’s entry. She writes:

A big thank you to davallia@UBC Botanical Garden Forums for sharing this picture of Strophanthus speciosus via the UBC Botanical Garden Botany Photo of the Day Submissions Forum.

Strophanthus speciosus is native to South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. Common names for this species include forest poison rope and corkscrew flower.

Though uncommon in its native range, Strophanthus speciosus is not presently under threat according to Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: Medicinal Plants (PROTA). Strophanthus speciosus is a shrub growing to 4m, or a liana sometimes reaching approximately 16m. This species flowers near the end of the dry season and beginning of the rainy season (September – October) in the wild, while “mature fruits occur throughout the year with a peak in the dry season”, according to the above resource. Although the efficacy is unconfirmed by research, it is traditionally used to treat snakebites (in humans and cattle). Alluding to its common name, related species such as Strophanthus gerrardii and Strophanthus luteolus (and possibly this species, as well) are used to generate a poison for spears and arrows (as well as more nefarious purposes).

Strophanthus is derived from the Greek stroph- meaning “a cord or twisted band; turn, twist” and –anthos, or “flower”. The genus is comprised of approximately 38 known species, of which 30 occur in continental Africa, 1 in Madagascar, and 7 in Asia.

Strophanthus speciosus

3 responses to “Strophanthus speciosus”

  1. Connie Hoge

    What a beautiful photograph! Articulate flowers. good contrast in both color and form, focus is fabulous, gratifying composition…
    You guys give me great pleasure, every time.
    Is it related to “Hoya”? Does it (the florescense) smell good?

  2. Mary Wilson

    How is it pollinated? How is it used to treat snakebite? Anybody know the chemical said to help in it?

  3. Katherine

    The chemicals that have been isolated from the seeds include glycosides (cardenolides), strospeside and christyoside. If it helps the source I used for medicinal/poisonous information lists these books as its main sources for the section on Strophanthus speciosus:
    Beentje 1982 A monograph on Strophanthus DC. (Apocynaceae). Mededelingen Landbourwhoge-school Wageningen 78-7, Wageningen, Netherlands. 32pp.
    Neuwinger 2000 African traditional medicin: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589pp.
    van Wyk, van Heerden & can Oudtshoorn 2002. Posionous plants of South Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa. 351pp.
    Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa 2nd edition. E. and S. Linvingstone, London, United Kingdom. 1457pp.

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