Strophanthus hispidus seeds
Strophanthus hispidus originates from West and Central Africa. If one cultivates Strophanthus hispidus alone it grows mainly as a shrub. Between other plants Strophanthus hispidus starts climbing. As a climbing plant is grows up on other trees, reaching the tree trop. Strophanthus hipidus contains latex. The flowers of Strophanthus look very filigree. They are actinomorphic and the corolla leaves are grown together forming thin filaments. Due to that the corolla leaves look slightly twisted, what gave the genus the name "Strophantus" meaning translated from Latin "twisted flowers". The yellow stamens in the middle are inconsiderable. The leaves of Strophanthus hispidus alternate at the shoot. They are ovate and taper. The fruit is a capsule that bears up to 200 seeds. The seeds are longish and have a pappus that is bigger than the whole seed. It is used to distribute the seeds with the wind. Later the seed loses the pappus. The seeds are pubescent and light brown to dark brown in color. The hairy seeds might be the reason why the species name is "hispidus" meaning "stiff hairs".
The seeds contain the so called h- Strophanthin. H- Strophanthin is a cardiac glycoside. Like many cardiac glycosides h- Strophanthin is poisonous. The seeds should be though handled with care because they have the highest concentration of h- Strophanthin compared to the other plant parts. The natives of Africa used the h- Strophanthin to poison their arrows. Those arrows were very deadly after that treatment. Until today one does not know an antidote. What we know is that there is a substance that is gained from the baobab that functions as an antidote. The natives used the poisoned arrows for hunting. It was no problem to eat animals that were killed with such an arrow. H- Strophanthin was distributed fast in the body and the overall concentration was low. In medicine Strophanthus hispidus is used for cardiac insufficiency. This effect was discovered by chance as the explorer and biologist Kirk brushed his teeth with a tooth brush that had contact with the seeds of Strophanthus hispidus. After that his heart problem got better. For cultivation the temperature should be around 25°C. In the moist substrate the seeds start germinating after one to two month.
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