Steganotaenia araliacea

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Local names:
English (carrot tree,cabbage tree), Luganda (kinulangombe,kimulyangimbe), Tigrigna (ander guhila), Tswana (morobolo)

Steganotaenia araliacea is a small savannah tree 2-7 m tall. Bark yellow-green or grey, rather waxy and peeling off in papery strips or rectangles.

Leaves pinnate, crowded towards branch ends, aromatic; leaflets 2-3 pairs on a leaf stalk about 10 cm long with an expanded base around the stem, ovate, to 5 cm, sometimes stalked, margin toothed.

Flowers small, green-white, in rounded compound clusters at twig ends. 3-7 long stalks arise together, each further bears a crown of small heads (umbels) about 8 cm across. Stamens longer than petals in male flowers. 

Fruit cream-brown, dehiscent, flat and heart shaped to 12 mm, winged each side with 3 ribs.

The generic name is likely based on Greek ‘stegnas’ meaning covered and the Latin ‘taenia’ meaning band.

Ecology

S. araliacea occurs over a wide range of altitude, but is abundant in low-altitude woodland or on rocky outcrops.

Native range
Angola, Benin, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mozambique, Namibia, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Seeds difficult to collect because of their small size.

S. araliacea occurs over a wide range of altitude, but is abundant in low-altitude woodland or on rocky outcrops.

S. araliacea is propagated by cuttings and wildings.

Poison:  Six dibenzocyclo-octadiene lignans from S. araliacea stem bark displayed cytotoxic (antimitotic) activity in a manner similar to colchicine on 11 human tumour cell lines. The lignans steganangin (the most abundant analogue), steganacin and steganolide A were most abundant.

Erosion control:  S. araliacea is important in soil conservation.

Tree parts are used as fuelwood.

Timber:  The wood is white and soft, used in making farm tool handles and implements.

Medicine:  The roots are used in treating snake bites and the tree trunk reported to have snake deterring activity, leaves are rubbed on wounds as general disinfectant. Roots and bark used to cure sore throat. Bark is chewed for fever. Twigs are used in dental care as toothbrushes and bark used in preparing a medication for a heart complication. The bark decoction, prepared by boiling the bark for one hour, is added to milk and administered orally to adults as a remedy for stomachache/dysentry. The roots are used in treating painful chest conditions. Plant material also used as medicine for gas in stomach. Saponins isolated from the leaves of S. araliacea have shown antileukaemic activity.

Ornamental:  This lovely tree often flowers and fruits when leafless. It makes a good garden plant because of its adaptability.

Soil improver:  Leaf litter enriches surrounding soil.

Intercropping:  S. araliacea has a light shade and is found intercropped with banana, cacao, coffee. In Uganda the tree is commonly left standing in fields for its medicinal value.

Essential oil:  The major hydrodistilled essential oils from the highly aromatic leaves are limonene + beta-phellandrene, alpha-pinene, sabinene, beta-caryophyllene and cryptone.