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APOCYNACEAE

Field Guide to the Moist Forest Trees of Tanzania

Jon C. Lovett, Chris K. Ruffo, Roy E. Gereau & James R.D. Taplin
Illustrations by Line Sørensen & Jilly Lovett

APOCYNACEAE

Acokanthera laevigata Kupicha
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NR.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Msungu (H), Msunguti (Sw).
Bole: Small. To 12 m.
Bark: Smooth/striate/ribbed.
Slash: White latex.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite.
Petiole: 0.3 – 1 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 6 – 12 × 3 – 7 cm. Ovate/elliptic. Cuneate/rounded. Obtuse/acute/mucronate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White. Fragrant. Contracted axillary cymes.
Fruit: Ovoid 2.5 – 3.2 × 2 – 2.5 cm.
Ecology: Dry lowland and dry montane forest.
Distr: C, EA. Malawi.
Notes: Leaves coriaceous. The local name Msungu means a poisonous tree.
Uses: The tough stems being suitable for building poles, firewood and tool handles. The bark roots and leaves are used to prepare arrow poison. All plant parts (except only ripe fruits which may be eaten) are poisonous.
Alstonia boonei De Wild.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NR.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: NR.
Bole: Straight. Fluted. Large. To 40 m.
Bark: Light brown. Smooth to granular, with prominent lenticels.
Slash: White/yellow. Sometimes with orange flecks. White latex.
Leaf: Simple. Whorled.
Petiole: NR.
Lamina: Medium. 20 × 5.5 cm.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: NR.
Thorns & Spines: NR.
Flower: NR.
Fruit: 20 – 40 cm long. Wind borne seeds.
Ecology: NR.
Distr: LT. Uganda, West Africa to Ethiopia.
Notes: Deciduous.
Uses: NR.
Funtumia africana (Benth.) Stapf
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: F. latifolia (Stapf) Stapf ex Schlecht.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Kilimboti (S).
Bole: Straight/buttressed. Large. To 30 m.
Bark: Dark brown/grey. Smooth.
Slash: Yellow/orange, edge purple. Copious pure white latex.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite, coriaceous.
Petiole: 0.3 – 1.5 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 5 – 32 × 2 – 17 cm. Elliptic. Cuneate. Acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: Hairs.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Yellow-white, fragrant. Axillary cymes. Fruit: Long follicle. Fruiting carpels 22 cm long, 15 cm wide. Seeds small with long hairs.
Ecology: Dry lowland, lowland, submontane, riverine forest.

Distribution of Funtumia africana

Distr: C, EA, LT, LV. Tropical Africa.
For infomation on the distribution of the entire genus see the pages of this site.

Notes: Pure white latex distinguishes it from Trilepisium which has dirty white latex.
Uses: The wood is white, light and easy to plane. It is used for making cheap furniture and is suitable for plywood, firewood and torches. The white latex is used for making bird-lime and balls. The smoke of the wood is used as an insect repellent.
Holarrhena pubescens Wall. ex G. Don
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: H. febrifuga Klotzsch
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mbelebele (Su).
Bole: Branched. Small/medium. To 18 m.
Bark: Grey/whitish. Smooth/rough.
Slash: White latex.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite/subopposite.
Petiole: 0.2 – 1.2 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 2 – 20 × 1.5 – 11 cm. Elliptic/ovate. Cuneate. Acuminate/acute/emarginate. Entire. Hairy/glabrous (more so on the lower than on the upper side).
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White, sweetly scented. Axillary heads.
Fruit: Paired long follicles. 20 – 37.7 cm long. 0.2 – 0.9 cm in diameter. Seeds hairy.
Ecology: Lowland dry and riverine forest. Woodland. Thicket.
Distr: C, EA, LV, LN, LT. Widespread in Southern and Central Africa. Also Asia.
Notes: The local name Mbelebele means a tree with milky latex.
Uses: The wood is soft. It is used for firewood and in the preparation of gun powder, knife sheaths and stools. It is also a good ornamental tree because of its sweet-scented white flowers. Leaves are used as medicine for stomach-ache. Roots are used as medicine for snake bites, and fever in children, influenza and for stimulating lactation in women.
Hunteria zeylanica (Retz.) Gardner ex Thwaites
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: H. africana K. Schum.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mziwaziwa (Sw).

Bole: Branched. Medium/large. To 40 m.
Bark: Grey. Smooth.
Slash: Pale yellow with bright orange underbark. White latex.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite.
Petiole: 0.7 – 1.3 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 7 – 22 × 2 – 4 cm. Oblong/elliptic. Cuneate. Acute/obtuse/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White to pale yellow. Terminal/axillary cymes.
Fruit: Orange paired fleshy berries. 1.1 – 2.7 × 0.6 – 2.1 cm.
Ecology: Riverine and lowland forest. Thicket.
Distr: C. Eastern Africa to Asia.
Notes: The local name Mziwaziwa means a tree with milky latex.
Uses: The wood is soft and light and used for firewood, knife and sword handles and sheaths. The white latex is used as a substitute for rubber. The tree is used for ornamental purposes because of its dark-green shiny leaves with sweet-scented white flowers. It can withstand water logging and salinity.
Mascarenhasia arborescens A. DC.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Lanugia variegata (Britten & Rendle) N.E. Br.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mgoa (Sw), Mlindaziwa (Sw).

Bole: Branched. Small. To 12 m.
Bark: Brown. Smooth. Twigs grey, rough with lenticels.
Slash: White latex.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite.
Petiole: 0.4 – 0.8 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 5 – 16.5 × 1.7 – 6 cm. Oblong/elliptic. Cuneate. Acute. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: Petiolar glands.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White with yellow tube. Axillary/terminal clusters/fasicles/cymes.
Fruit: Narrowly paired elliptic follicle. 5 – 17.5 cm long with rough grey surface.
Ecology: Lowland and riverine forest.
Distr: C. Tropical Southern and Central Africa. Madagascar, Comoros.
Notes: The local name Mlindaziwa means a tree which guards the lake.
Uses: The soft wood is used for firewood, knife sheaths and spear handles. Ornamental sweet scented flowers.
Pleiocarpa pycnantha (K. Schum.) Stapf
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Pleiocarpa sp. nr. swynnertonii S. Moore
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: NR.
Bole: Small/medium. To 30 m.
Bark: Grey. Smooth/scaling.
Slash: White/cream/pale brown with darker yellow striations. Brown yellow beneath. Milky latex.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite/whorled.
Petiole: Often narrowly winged. 0.3 – 2 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 6 – 14 × 2 – 6 cm. Elliptic/ovate/oblong. Cuneate. Acuminate/acute. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White. Fragrant. Dense axillary fasicles.
Fruit: Pale green/orange when ripe. Paired berries 0.7 – 2 × 0.5 – 1.8 cm.
Ecology: Lowland forest. Woodland.
Distr: C, LV, LT. Widespread in Tropical Africa.
Notes: In Tanzania this species is usually a small shrub.
Uses: The wood is white, hard and durable, used for building poles tool handles, pestles, pegs, wooden spoons and firewood. The WaShambaa chew the roots to stimulate sexual arousal.
Rauvolfia caffra Sond.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: R. goetzei Stapf, R. inebrians K. Schum., R. natalensis Sond., R. obliquinervis Stapf, R. ochrosioides K. Schum.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mkonga (G), Mkufi (Sw), Msesewe (C), Msumai (R), Mveriveri (H), Mweeti (S).
Bole: Crooked/straight. Small/large. To 40 m.
Bark: Grey/brown. Corky. Lenticellate/smooth/rough.
Slash: Pale brown. Granular. White latex.
Leaf: Simple. Whorled.
Petiole: 0 – 6 cm. Channelled.
Lamina: Medium/large. 2 – 50 × 2 – 15 cm. Elliptic/oblong. Cuneate. Acute. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: Absent.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/pale green/pale yellow. Terminal many flowered cyme. Hermaphrodite.

Fruit: Dark red. Lenticellate. One-two lobed. Globose 1 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Montane forest.
Distr: C, EA, N, LN, LT. Widespread in Tropical and Southern Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is used as timber which is suitable for simple doors, boxes, water troughs, spoons, bowls, milk pots, stools, grain mortars, beehives and drums. The bark from the stem and roots are used by many tribes for treating high blood pressure and intestinal worms. The WaChagga use the bark when preparing a native drink to make it strong and tasty. The bark is also used as medicine for pneumonia, rheumatism, allergy and body swellings. The tree is also used for shade, ornamental and as a bee forage.
Tabernaemontana elegans Stapf
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Conopharyngia elegans (Stapf) Stapf
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mkuti, Mbombo (Sw).
Bole: Branched. Small. To 12 m.
Bark: Pale brown. Corky. Longitudinally fissured.
Slash: White latex.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite/subopposite.
Petiole: 0.7 – 3 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 6 – 23 × 2 – 8 cm. Elliptic. Cuneate. Acute/obtuse/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous/occassionally hairy beneath.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Present as interpetiolar ochrea.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White/cream/pale yellow. Fragrant. Axillary corymb. Hermaphrodite.
Fruit: Green with pale brown warts, 2 separate mericarps. 5 – 8 × 4 – 6.5 cm. 4 – 5 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Lowland and riverine forest. Woodland.
Distr: C, EA. Eastern and Southern Africa.
Notes: Secondary veins 12 – 23 pairs at 70 – 90 degrees to the midrib. The local name Mbombo means a fire stick.
Uses: The wood is white and easy to work. It is used for firewood, spoons, knife and sword handles, building poles and pegs for making animal traps. The seeds, stem bark and roots are used by the WaBondei and WaDigo for treating heart diseases. The latex is tapped for making bird lime.
Tabernaemontana odoratissima (Stapf) Leeuwenb
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: NR.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: NR.
Bole: Small. To 15 m.
Bark: Pale/dark brown.
Slash: White latex.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite.
Petiole: 0.5 – 1.6 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 9 – 26 × 2 – 11 cm. Elliptic. Cuneate. Apiculate/obtuse/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: Scattered black dots on leaf underside.
Stipules: Present as interpetiolar ochrea.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White. Fragrant. Axillary corymb. Hermaphrodite.
Fruit: 2 separate mericarps 5 × 4.5 × 4.5 cm.
Ecology: Riverine and lowland forest.
Distr: EA (Ma, Udz). Uganda, Central Africa.
Notes: Secondary veins 7 – 15 pairs at 45 – 80 degrees to midrib.
Uses: NR.
Tanbernaemontana pachysiphon Stapf
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Conopharyngia angolensis (Stapf) Stapf., Conopharyngia holstii (K.Schum.) Stapf
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Kibombo, Muambe (Sw).
Bole: Branched. Small/medium. To 18 m.
Bark: Pale brown/grey brown/yellow. Soft. Prominent cream lenticels.
Slash: Yellow with a brown yellow edge. Soft. Copious pure white latex.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite.
Petiole: 0.6 – 2 cm.
Lamina: Medium/large. 10 – 50 × 5 – 26 cm. Elliptic. Cuneate. Acute/acuminate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: Scattered minute black dots beneath.
Stipules: Present, interpetiolar.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White with yellow throat, sweetly scented, opening in day time. Axillary corymb. Hermaphrodite.
Fruit: Yellow/green. In pairs. 7 – 15 × 6 – 13 cm. 6 – 14 cm in diameter.
Ecology: NR.

Distr: C, EA, N, LN, LT, LV. Widespread in Tropical Africa.
Notes: Leaf veins at 60 – 80 degrees to the midrib. Aril white. The local name Kibombo means small fire stick.
Uses: The wood is white and soft. It is used firewood, knife sheaths and handles. The bark and roots are used as medicine for hypertension, stomach-ache, constipation, headache and flatulence. The latex is applied on fresh wounds to prevent infection and to hasten healing.The tree is used for shade and amenity because of its dark green shiny leaves and sweet-scented white flowers.

Distribution of Tabernaemontana pachysiphon

Tabernaemontana stapfiana Britten
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Conopharyngia johnstonii Stapf
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mracha (C), Mwambe (Sw).
Bole: Small/medium/large. To 35 m.
Bark: Pale/dark grey/brown. 1 cm thick and corky. Lenticellate. White latex.
Slash: NR.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite.
Petiole: 0.5 – 3 cm.
Lamina: Medium/large. Elliptic. Cuneate. Acuminate/apiculate. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: Scattered black dots beneath.
Stipules: Present as interpetiolar ochrea.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: White with a pale green tube and often with a pale yellow throat, fragrant. Axillary corymb. Hermaphrodite.
Fruit: Dark/pale green white/yellow dots, 2 separate big mericarps. Above 5 cm long. 10 – 20 × 8 – 20 cm. 8 – 20 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Lowland, submontane and montane forest.

Distr: C, EA, N, LN, LT, LV. Eastern and Central Africa.
Notes: Leaf veins at 70 – 90 degrees to the midrib.
Uses: White, soft wood which is used for firewood and handles for swords and knives. The bark, roots and seeds are used as medicine for high blood pressure. The tree is used for shade, bee forage and for ornamental purposes because of its large fruits and sweet-scented white flowers.

Distribution of Tabernaemontana stapfiana

Tabernaemontana ventricosa Hochst. ex A. DC.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: Conopharyngia usambarensis (K. Schum.) Stapf
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mwambe-ziwa (Sw).
Bole: Branched/straight. Small. To 15 m.
Bark: Pale brown. Fissured, often slightly corky. Lenticellate.
Slash: White latex.
Leaf: Simple. Opposite. Coriaceous.
Petiole: 0.3 – 1.5 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 4 – 27 × 1.5 – 10 cm. Elliptic/lanceolate. Cuneate. Acuminate/acute/obtuse. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: NR.
Stipules: Present as interpetiolar ochrea. Falling.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.

Flower: White/cream, fragrant. Pale yellow throat, greenish tube/entirely pale yellow on the mature bud. Axillary/terminal corymb. Hermaphrodite.

SI Exif

Fruit: Dark green, paired mericarps, joined at base. Obliquely ellipsoid, rounded with two faint lateral ridges. 6 – 7 × 4.5 – 5 cm. 4 – 4.5 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Riverine, dry lowland and lowland forest.

Distr: C, EA, N, LN, LT, LV. Tropical and Southern Africa.

Notes: Leaf veins at 60 – 80 degrees to the midrib. Aril orange.

Uses: The soft white wood is similar to other species of this genus. The wood is used for making stools, beds and knife sheaths. The seeds, bark and roots are used as medicine for nerve problems and for high blood pressure. The latex is used to cure wounds. This species is also suitable for planting in swampy areas where other species fail to survive.

Distribution of Tabernaemontana ventricosa

Voacanga africana Stapf
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: V. boehmii K.Schum., V. lutescens Stapf.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Ikolyoko (T), Mbelebele (L), Mbwewe (S).
Bole: Small/medium. To 25 m.
Bark: Pale grey-brown. Smooth to shallowly fissured.
Slash: White latex. Leaf: Simple. Opposite.
Petiole: Sessile to 2 cm. Lamina: Medium/large. 7 – 42 × 3 – 20 cm. Elliptic. Cuneate. Acuminate/acute/obtuse. Entire. Glabrous/hairy.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: Absent.
Stipules: Absent.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Pale yellow-white-green. Malodorous. Lax corymbose in forks of branches.
Fruit: Dark/pale green spotted. Two mericarps of which one develops 3 – 8 × 3 – 8 × 2.5 – 7 cm.
Ecology: Riverine forest. Woodland. Grassland.
Distr: EA, N, LN, LT. Widespread in Tropical Africa.
Notes: NR.
Uses: The wood is soft and light and used for firewood, knife and sword sheaths, handles for billhooks and for the preparation of gun powder. The seeds are used as medicine for high blood pressure and for stimulating nerves and removing fatigue. The plant is planted for ornamental purposes because of its sweet-scented white flowers.
Voacanga thouarsii Roem. & Schult.
Syn. FTEA: NC.
Syn. TTCL: V. obtusa K. Schum.
Syn. other: NR.
Local names: Mlindaziwa (Sw).
Bole: Small/medium. To 20 m.
Bark: Pale grey-brown. Smooth with small lenticels.
Slash: White latex.

Leaf: Simple. Opposite.
Petiole: 0.8 – 2.5 cm.
Lamina: Medium. 6 – 25 × 2 – 9 cm. Elliptic. Cuneate. Obtuse. Entire. Glabrous.
Domatia: NR.
Glands: Minute pits on both surfaces.
Stipules: Ochrea widened into interpetiolar stipules.
Thorns & Spines: Absent.
Flower: Pale yellow-white-green. Fragrant. Lax corymbose in forks of branches.
Fruit: Pale and dark green spotted. Paired mericarps 4 – 10 cm in diameter.
Ecology: Groundwater, riverine and submontane forest.
Distr: C, EA, LV. Throughout Tropical and Southern Africa. Madagascar.
Notes: Dominant of swampy areas. Leaves obtuse. The local name Mlindaziwa means a tree which guards the lake.
Uses: The wood is white, hard and tough. It is used for firewood, beds, tool handles and animal traps. The bark, roots and seeds are used as medicine for stimulating nerves, stomach-ache, snake bites and high blood pressure. The powder from pounded bark is used for the treatment of wounds, sores and boils. The latex is used for bird-lime. The tree is suitable for planting on swampy areas and stream banks.
Last Updated: 5 February 2019