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Picralima Nitida - 03.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Rauvolfioideae
Tribe: Hunterieae
Genus: Picralima
P. nitida
Binomial name
Picralima nitida
(Stapf) T.Durand & H.Durand
  • Tabernaemontana nitida Stapf
  • Picralima klaineana Pierre
  • Picralima macrocarpa A.Chev.

Picralima is a plant genus in the family Apocynaceae, first described as a genus in 1896. It contains only one known species, Picralima nitida, native to tropical Africa (Benin, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Gabon, Cameroon, Cabinda, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Zaire, Uganda).[1][2][3][4][5]

Picralima nitida, the akuamma, is a tree. The dried seeds from this plant are used in traditional medicine throughout West Africa, particularly in Ghana as well as in the Ivory Coast and Nigeria. The seeds are crushed or powdered and taken orally, and are mainly used for the treatment of malaria[6] and diarrhoea, and as a painkiller. The plant produces the alkaloids pericine and akuammine, among others.

An enterprising Ghanaian hospital started manufacturing and selling standardized 250 mg capsules of the powdered P. nitida seed, which then became a widely used palliative.[citation needed] This then led researchers to try to discover the active component of the seeds.

Picralima nitida seeds contain a mixture of alkaloids producing antipyretic and antiinflammatory effects along with analgesia in animal studies.[7] Several of these were shown to bind to opioid receptors with weak affinity in vitro, and two compounds, akuammidine and ψ-akuammigine, were found to be μ-opioid agonists, although not particularly selective.[8]

formerly included in genus[1]
  1. Picralima elliotii (Stapf) Stapf = Hunteria umbellata (K.Schum.) Hallier f.
  2. Picralima gracilis A.Chev. = Hunteria umbellata (K.Schum.) Hallier f.
  3. Picralima laurifolia A.Chev. = Hunteria simii (Stapf) H.Huber
  4. Picralima umbellata (K.Schum.) Stapf = Hunteria umbellata (K.Schum.) Hallier f.


  1. ^ a b c Kew World Checklist of Selected Plant Families
  2. ^ Harris, D.J. (2002). The vascular plants of the Dzanga-Sangha Reserve, Central African Republic: 1-274. National Botanic Garden (Belgium), Meise.
  3. ^ Akoègninou, A., van der Burg, W.J. & van der Maesen, L.J.G. (eds.) (2006). Flore Analytique du Bénin: 1-1034. Backhuys Publishers.
  4. ^ Sosef, M.S.M. & al. (2006). Check-list des plantes vasculaires du Gabon. Scripta Botanica Belgica 35: 1-438.
  5. ^ Figueiredo, E. & Smith, G.F. (2008). Plants of Angola. Strelitzia 22: 1-279. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  6. ^ Kapadia GJ, Angerhofer CK, Ansa-Asamoah R. Akuammine: an antimalarial indolemonoterpene alkaloid of Picralima nitida seeds. Planta Medica. 1993 Dec;59(6):565-6.
  7. ^ Duwiejua M, Woode E, Obiri DD. Pseudo-akuammigine, an alkaloid from Picralima nitida seeds, has anti-inflammatory and analgesic actions in rats. Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2002; (81):73-79.
  8. ^ Lewin G, Le Ménez P, Rolland Y, Renouard A, Giesen-Crouse E. Akuammine and dihydroakuammine, two indolomonoterpene alkaloids displaying affinity for opioid receptors. Journal of Natural Products. 1992 Mar;55(3):380-4.

External links[edit]

  • Data related to Picralima at Wikispecies
  • Dressler, S.; Schmidt, M. & Zizka, G. (2014). "Picralima nitida". African plants – a Photo Guide. Frankfurt/Main: Forschungsinstitut Senckenberg.