Botanical Name:Funtumia elastica
Species: F. elastica
Synonyms: Kibatalia elastica (Preuss) Merr. Kixia elastica Preuss
Common Names: Bush rubber tree, Silkrubber, West African Rubber Tree. Lagos silk rubber
Habitat: Funtumia elastica is native to tropical Africa – Senegal to Sudan, south to Gabon, Congo and Tanzania. It grows in Deciduous forest.
Funtumia elastica is an evergreen deciduous Tree . Its bark is greenish brown to grey and it is a fast-growing. It has a cylindrical bole growing up to 30 m in height and with a diameter of about 75cm. The leaves are broadly oval, opposite, dark green and leathery with yellow to white flowers, in short dense groups, with the lobes of the corolla shorter than the flower tube.
A tree of the moist tropics. The plant is amenable to cultivation in forest plantations. Though the quality of the rubber is comparably good with that of Hevea rubber, this species can in no way compete in yield and therefore economically except in time of dire necessity.
The bark is very astringent, laxative and vermifuge. It is included in prescriptions for troubles associated with blennorrhoea and for painful menstruation. It is pounded up and taken in spirit to cure haemorrhoids. The latex is applied to cracked sores of the feet, to cutaneous fungal infections and to sores. A number of alkaloids is present in the leaves. They are used for treating chest-affections and particularly for whooping-cough. The young leaves are taken by mouth or in enemas for the treatment of diarrhoea, or are mixed with kaolin and administered by enema. The young leaves, mixed with those of Phyllanthus muellerianus, are taken to improve male fertility. An unidentified alkaloid is present in the seed . There has been some commercial interest in the seeds as a substitute for Strophanthus seed as a source of strophanthin (which is used like digitalin to treat heart conditions.
The latex obtained from the stem bark is applied to heal cracked sores of the feet and also applied to treat cutaneous fungal infections and body sores. In addition, the latex/sap from the bark is also topically applied as an antidote on snake bite wounds. The stem latex of Funtumia elastica is also used for washing wounds.
The young leaves decoction is administered orally for treatment of diarrhoea and dysentery and is also useful in treatment of naso-pharyngeal infections. In some communities, the decoction made from the young leaves of Funtumia elastica in combination with the Phyllanthus muellerianus plant is administered to improve male fertility. The leaves decoction is also used as a cure for mouth and venereal diseases such as syphilis and gonorrhoea.
The bark contains a white latex which coagulates readily. Very high quality, but low yielding compared to Hevea brasiliensis. The seed-pod contains a fine white floss which is used for stuffing pillows and cushions. In some regions of Africa it is preferred over the floss obtained from Bombax and Ceiba. Spinning trials have indicated a suitability for commercial exploitation. The seeds contain about 26% oil with a bitterness in the cake, making it unfit for edible purposes. The wood is white and soft, and undifferentiated between sap and heart. It is not durable. It is used for carving spoons, bowls and other household utensils, and as a timber for beams and rafters in buildings. At one time it was commonly used in Ghana for making Asante stools, and still occasionally is. It has been found very suitable in match-manufacture for the inner and outer boxes and for match-splints, and is recommended for these purposes. It burns well and is said to be superior to Gmelina arborea.
The Funtumia elastica seed-pod contains a fine white floss which is collected and used for stuffing cushions and pillows in some communities. The wood is also used for carving household utensils such as spoons and bowls and the timber for wall beams and rafters in buildings.
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