Herbs & Plants

Dactyladenia barteri

Botanical Name: Dactyladenia barteri
Family: Chrysobalanaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Dactyladenia

*Griffonia barteri Hook.f. ex Oliv. (1871),
*Acioa barteri (Hook.f. ex Oliv.) Engl. (1899).

Common Names: Monkey Fruit

Habitat: Dactyladenia barteri is native to Western tropical Africa – Sierra Leone to Nigeria, south to Gabon and Congo. It grows on lowland forest with at least 1,200mm rainfall per year. In the forest-savannah transition zone, it is found along riverbanks, sometimes on the inland side of mangrove forest.

Dactyladenia barteri is a climbing shrub or small tree, up to 12 m tall; bole fluted, often multiple, crooked, up to 25(–40) cm in diameter; bark brittle, slash thin and watery-white, turning reddish; crown dense, spreading; young shoots dark red, covered with whitish, arachnoid tomentum, early caducous; branches more or less scandent, slender, hispid, very quickly glabrescent when young, with numerous lenticels when old. Leaves alternate, simple; stipules often attached near the base of the petiole, linear, 4–6 mm long; petiole 3–4 mm long; blade elliptical-oblong to ovate, 7–13(–15) cm × 3–5.5(–7) cm, base acuminate, sometimes broadly acuminate and somewhat asymmetrical, apex acuminate, dark glossy green, turning reddish-brown when senescent, lateral veins in 4–6 pairs, some circular glands often present on the underside of the blade near the base and the apex. Inflorescence a terminal or axillary raceme, single or sometimes in pairs, 3–4(–12) cm long, puberulous, many flowered; peduncle up to 1(–4) cm long; bracts elliptical-lanceolate, 2–4 mm long, tricuspidate, often with circular glands; flowers bisexual, zygomorphic; pedicel articulated, portion below articulation 6–10 mm long, long persistent, bearing 2 alternate, lanceolate bracteoles 1–1.5 mm long, upper portion 5–15 mm long; receptacle tubular, 4–6 mm long, puberulous; sepals 5, 4–5 mm long, puberulous outside; petals 5, oblong-obovoid, 4–5 mm long, white, caducous; stamens 15–20, (15–)25(–30) mm long, ligulately connate for most of their length, far exserted; pistil with 1-locular ovary, a filiform style slightly longer than the stamens, and a 3-lobed stigma. Fruit a single-seeded drupe, compressed-ovoid, 2.5 cm × 3.5 cm × 5.0 cm, green, surface often ferruginous-tomentose, apex often slightly tuberculate. Seedling with epigeal germination.

The root system is deep, but its lateral expansion in the top layer of the soil is limited. On an ultisol in south-eastern Nigeria, for instance, about 50% of the roots of less than 2 mm in diameter occurred in the top 20 cm of the soil near the stem, whereas at a distance of 120 cm from the tree base this percentage dropped sharply. In Nigeria and Ghana, Dactyladenia barteri usually flowers during the dry season, between October and February. Fruits mature at the beginning of the rainy season, between March and May. Dactyladenia barteri is open-pollinated, the main pollinators being red ants, but occasionally bees and wasps have been recorded.


A plant of the moist, lowland tropics, being found at elevations below 300 metres. It grows in areas where the mean annual temperature is in the range 20 – 34°c, and the mean annual rainfall is 750 – 1,500 mm. Well adapted to leached, acid and infertile (ultisols) soils, the plant can also survive occasional flooding. Established trees coppice well, even after pollarding or burning, and are fire resistant. Planted at 4 metres x 4metres, this species can produce 6 tonnes per hectare dry prunings, 4 tonnes of twigs and 9 tonnes of wood within 8 months[ 303 ]. It has been suggested that Dactyladenia lehmbachii and Dactyladenia pallescens, which flower in the same period, may cross-pollinate with this specie..

Medicinal Uses:
The bark and roots are used medicinally as a purgative and against a variety of ailments. In Liberia, a liquor made from the bark is used as a purgative.

Other Uses:
Agroforestry Uses: The shrubs have an extensive, deep root system that holds the soil and so can be used in schemes to prevent soil erosion. The tree produces large amounts of litter and recycles appreciable quantities of nutrients through its deep root system, whilst its dense canopy aids in weed suppression. It has shown promise as mulch and soil regenerator because of its slow decomposition rate. The stems provide good quality poles for staking yams and for construction. The tree is planted in hedgerows in a traditional alley cropping system with inter-hedgerow spacing of 2 – 3 metres and with 1 – 2 years of cropping followed by 3 – 4 years of fallow. Following the fallow period, the shrubs are underbrushed and burned and stems cut to a height of 10 – 20cm. Some stems are left uncut for live staking of Guinea yam (Dioscorea cayenensis). Crops are then interplanted in the alleys. Other Uses: The dark red wood is hard, durable and resistant to termite attack. The stems provide good quality poles for staking crops and are also used for construction work. The wood is used for fuel.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

In Liberia, a liquor made from the bark is used as a purgative.

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