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Gnetum africanum

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
PLANTAE TRACHEOPHYTA GNETOPSIDA GNETALES GNETACEAE

Scientific Name: Gnetum africanum
Species Authority: Welw.
Common Name(s):
English Eru
Synonym(s):
Thoa africana (Welw.) Doweld
Taxonomic Notes: In 2000, Doweld proposed that all Gnetum species should be changed to Thoa, except two Asiatic species, mainly based on seedcoat structure.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Near Threatened ver 3.1
Year Published: 2013
Date Assessed: 2008-07-17
Assessor(s): Lakeman Fraser, P. & Bachman, S.
Reviewer(s): Hilton-Taylor, C. & Lutz, M.L.
Justification:
Gnetum africanum has a large distribution across tropical Africa and tolerates a range of habitats and environmental conditions. It is well known to local communities as a useful plant, most notably for its edible leaves, but also for a number of medicinal uses. A large amount of material (mostly leaves) from this plant is traded locally and internationally; the majority of which is from wild stands. Exports from countries such as Cameroon, Gabon and Central African Republic to Nigeria for example are estimated to be 2,500-4,000 t annually. The overall rate of harvesting of wild populations is not known, but appears to be increasing. Despite the large range of G. africanum the harvesting of wild populations is considered a major threat and a rating of Near Threatened is given. The increased harvesting of this species, if unchecked and unmanaged, could lead to a drastic reduction in population size which would then meet the thresholds for a threatened category. Sustainable cultivation should reduce the pressure on wild populations and careful monitoring should be undertaken to ensure population numbers are stabilised.

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description: This species is found from west central tropical Africa to Angola including Central African Republic, Cameroon, Gabon, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola.
Countries:
Native:
Angola (Angola); Cameroon; Central African Republic; Congo; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Gabon
Range Map: Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population: The population size is not known.
Population Trend: Decreasing

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology: Gnetum africanum has been recorded in both primary and secondary semi-deciduous, humid forests, in some cases where the forest had been degraded substantially. The species tolerates both dense forests and the transition of anthropogenous grass savanna to forest at exposed, sunny locations. In most cases however G. africanum is a shade tolerant plant and doesn't like direct sunlight. It has also been collected from riverine forest environments that were seasonally flooded and had soils of sandy composition.
Systems: Terrestrial

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: The leaves and fruits are edible when cooked. The leaves are cut into small strips, cooked in sauces and eaten with manioc. The leaves are also eaten by gorillas. The pedicles are cut small, beaten, mixed with soap and used as a wash to stimulate hair growth. The bark used to make rope and fish nets. In Nigeria, the leaf of G. africanum is used in the treatment of an enlarged spleen, sore throats and as a cathartic. In Ubangi (DR Congo), it is used to treat nausea and is considered to be an antidote to some forms of poison. In Congo-Brazzaville, the leaves are used as a dressing for warts and boils and a tisane of the cut-up stem is taken to reduce the pain of childbirth (Shiembo 2002). Harvesting of wild populations can be destructive as stems or branches are pulled from trees.The major source of specimens for trade are from wild populations, although efforts to start cultivating this species are in place.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): Over-harvesting for local, national and international trade is the main threat to this species.

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: Domestication programmes to alleviate harvesting pressure on wild populations are being developed. Gnetum africanum has been recorded from several protected areas across its range and is likely to be found in many more.

Citation: Lakeman Fraser, P. & Bachman, S. 2013. Gnetum africanum. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.3. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 26 November 2014.
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