Holarrhena floribunda

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Related Links
Holarrhena floribunda bark
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Holarrhena floribunda foliage and flowers.
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut

© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut
Holarrhena floribunda bark
© Joris de Wolf, Patrick Van Damme, Diego Van Meersschaut

Local names:
English (false rubber tree)

Holarrhena floribunda is a shrub to medium sized tree, 4.5-15 m high.

Leaves shining, mostly ovate-acuminate, or ovate-lanceolate, 5-18 cm long and 2-8 cm broad with 6-12 pairs of lateral nerves.

Flowers white, scented and in almost umbel-like inflorescences; corolla-tube 5-9 mm long and lobes 3.5-8 mm and overlapping to the right. Anthers fertile to the base.

Paired narrowly cylindrical fruiting follicles, 30-60 cm, with seeds having apical tufts of hair.

Two varieties are recognized; var. floribunda with glabrous or almost glabrous leaves even when young and var. tomentella with densely pubescent leaves. The latter is common in the Sudan and Gambia.

The generic epithet Holarrhena is derived from Greek meaning complete male, whereas the specific epithet refers to its prolific flowering trait.


Occurs in relic deciduous, closed woodland forests, sometimes in fringing and riverine forest and on inselbergs in northern guinea savanna.

Native range
Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Liberia, Mali, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Togo

Occurs in relic deciduous, closed woodland forests, sometimes in fringing and riverine forest and on inselbergs in northern guinea savanna.

Natural regeneration is mainly by seed. Hairy roots were induced by inoculation of in vitro cultured seedlings, with the aim of increasing alkaloid biosynthesis. The percentage of plantlets forming hairy roots has been found to be 43% from experiments (Belalia et al. 1989).

Poison:  Most members of the family Apocynaceae are poisonous, therefore H. floribunda material should be handled carefully especially for medicinal purposes.

Timber:  Timber widely used to construct granaries or cribs in Benin. Its white wood is resistant to attack by Prostephanus truncatus. H. floribunda is considered the best for carving native stools.

Medicine:  Stem bark of H. floribunda is used in traditional medicine to treat malaria, dysentery, fever, female sterility, skin infections venereal diseases and snake bites. In Nigeria, convulsion, especially in children, is managed by traditional healers employing leaf extracts of H. floribunda. Fractions containing saponins, polar steroidal glycosides, steroidal glycosides and alkaloids exhibited some antibacterial activity against Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis and antifungal activity against Candida albicans. The saponin fraction markedly inhibited growth of Aspergillus niger.  Conessine, an alkaloid from stem and root bark of H. floribunda, has been used as an amoebicide antidysenteric and febrifuge.

Ornamental:  It flowers prolifically and can therefore be an ideal ornamental tree.

Latex or rubber:  A rubber like product obtained from this plant is used to adulterate genuine rubber.