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Strophanthus speciosus 1DS-II 3-9217.jpg
Strophanthus speciosus
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Apocynoideae
Tribe: Nerieae
Genus: Strophanthus
DC., 1802
  • Cercocoma Wall. ex G.Don
  • Christya Ward & Harv.
  • Faskia Lour. ex B.A.Gomes
  • Roupalia T.Moore & Ayres
  • Roupellia Wall. & Hook. ex Benth.
  • Roupellina (Baill.) Pichon
  • Zygonerion Baill.

Strophanthus is a genus of flowering plants in the family Apocynaceae, first described as a genus in 1802. It is native primarily to tropical Africa, extending to South Africa, with a few species in Asia from southern India to New Guinea and southern China.[1][2] The genus name is a compound of the Greek words στροφος (strophos) "twisted" and ανθοσ (anthos) "flower", in reference to the corolla lobes which, in some species - notably S. petersianus (see below) - resemble long twisted ribbons or threads and can reach a length of 30–35 cm. This trait, in addition to colouring involving combinations of bright pinks, purples and oranges, combine to make the flowers among the most ornamental in the plant kingdom.[2]

The genus includes vines, shrubs, and small trees. The leaves are opposite or whorled, simple broad lanceolate, 2–20 cm long, with an entire margin.

Several African tribes used Strophanthus as the principal ingredient in arrow poison. After dipping the arrows of their hunting weapons into a strong concentration of the ingredient, the effect was to stun their prey.

Plants from this genus produce toxic alkaloids and cardiac glycosides g-strophanthin (syn. ouabain), k-strophanthin, and e-strophanthin. As ordinarily administered, the drug acts on the heart before influencing any other organ or tissue.[2] Indeed, often no other effect may be observed. Some of the chemicals in the plants are used to produce the drug ouabain, which was taken as a cardiac stimulant to treat heart failure and sometimes g-strophanthin is advocated as an alternative treatment to more contemporary practices. The effect is similar to that of the drug digoxin, which is produced from Digitalis purpurea.[2]



  1. Strophanthus amboensis - Zaïre to Namibia
  2. Strophanthus arnoldianus - Zaïre
  3. Strophanthus barteri - Liberia to Gabon
  4. Strophanthus bequaertii - E Zaïre, Rwanda, SW Uganda
  5. Strophanthus boivinii - Madagascar
  6. Strophanthus bullenianus - Zaïre to Nigeria
  7. Strophanthus caudatus - S China, SE Asia, New Guinea
  8. Strophanthus congoensis - Zaïre to Cameroon
  9. Strophanthus courmontii - Kenya to Zimbabwe
  10. Strophanthus demeusei - Zaïre
  11. Strophanthus divaricatus - S China, Vietnam, Laos
  12. Strophanthus eminii - Zaïre, Zambia, Tanzania
  13. Strophanthus gardeniiflorus - S Zaïre, N Zambia, E Angola
  14. Strophanthus gerrardii - Mozambique, Swaziland, NE South Africa
  15. Strophanthus gracilis - Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon
  16. Strophanthus gratus - Zaïre to Senegal
  17. Strophanthus hispidus - Senegal to Uganda to Angola
  18. Strophanthus holosericeus - S Zaïre, N Zambia
  19. Strophanthus hypoleucos - Mozambique, Tanzania
  20. Strophanthus kombe - Kenya to Namibia
  21. Strophanthus ledienii - W Zaïre, NW Angola
  22. Strophanthus luteolus - Mozambique, South Africa
  23. Strophanthus mirabilis - Somalia, Kenya
  24. Strophanthus mortehanii - Zaïre to Cameroon
  25. Strophanthus nicholsonii - Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe
  26. Strophanthus parviflorus - Cameroon to Angola
  27. Strophanthus perakensis - Indochina, Perak in Malaysia
  28. Strophanthus petersianus - Kenya to KwaZulu-Natal
  29. Strophanthus preussii - Liberia to Tanzania to Angola
  30. Strophanthus puberulus - Sumbawa in Indonesia
  31. Strophanthus sarmentosus - Liberia to Uganda to Angola
  32. Strophanthus singaporianus - W Malaysia, Singapore, Borneo
  33. Strophanthus speciosus - South Africa, Swaziland, Zimbabwe
  34. Strophanthus thollonii - Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Ivory Coast†
  35. Strophanthus vanderijstii - Zaïre, Angola
  36. Strophanthus wallichii - S China, Himalayas, Indochina, W Malaysia
  37. Strophanthus welwitschii - Tanzania to Angola
  38. Strophanthus wightianus - S India
  39. Strophanthus zimmermannianus - Kenya, Tanzania
formerly included in genus[1]


  1. ^ a b c d "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved May 17, 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  2. ^ a b c d Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Strophanthus" . Encyclopædia Britannica. 25 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 1041–1042.

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