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Picralima nitida, Akuamma seeds

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Picralima nitida, Akuamma seeds
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Picralima nitida seeds

 

Picralima nitida is native to Africa. Picralima nitida is the only species in the genus Picralima in the family of the Apocynaceae. In most parts of Africa the plant is known as Akuamma. Akuamma grows as a tree and reaches a height of 15 m in average. The height can strongly vary. Very small and very big individuals of Picralima nitida are known. The trunk has in average 60 cm in diameter. The bark is grey black or brown. The leaves of Picralima nitida are deeply green and ovate. They stand opposite at the twigs and can get 25 cm long. They are glossy. All parts of the Akuamma contain milky latex.

The flowers of Akuamma are small, actinomorphic and white. They have a pleasant odor and are clustered in the leaf axilla. The fruit is big and changes color while ripening from green to yellow and orange. The fruit is 20 cm long and very smooth. The fruit contains the various seeds of Picralima nitida. The seeds are ovate and get 4 cm long. They are brown or orange and lay in an orange pulp. One can gain oil from the seeds when pressing them.

The seeds are also used since long time in the folk medicine of Africa. They are given mainly against pain. Until today the powdered seeds in capsules are used in Ghana. One can even buy officially "Picap" a capsule with dried and powdered seeds. Beside the seeds also the bark and the roots are cooked and used against stomach ache and other intestinal problems. Beside that Picralima nitida can be also used against endoparasites like worms and diarrhea. Akuamma has another important application in the therapy of malaria. The alkaloids akuammine and alstonine that the plant contains are very efficient to treat malaria. All in all Picralima nitida could become a very important medical plant. Therefore more research has to be done concerning side effects and toxicity of the substances.

For cultivation of the seeds the surrounding temperature should be around 25°C. The seeds do not need a pretreatment and germination usually starts after just 1 to 2 month in the constantly moist substrate.

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