Ancistrocladus is a little known genus of about 20 species in the monogeneric family Ancistrocladaceae.

These are palaeotropical climbing twining plants, found in lowland to submontane, wet to seasonal evergreen or swamp forests, with eleven species occurring in tropical Africa and at least five species in West India, SE Asia, Borneo and Taiwan.

The sparingly branched, sympodial stem is complex and can exceed 10 cm diameter. It is along one side attached to the tree with grapnels (short, hooked lateral thorns, formed from modified stem apices), opposite to the leaves.

Their leaves are borne in dense, evergeeen rosettes. They are entire, have short petioles and lack stipules. They have a single wax-secreting trichome in the epidermal pits and glands on the abaxial surface. The flowers are small with a basally connate corolla, that are imbricate or rolled up lengthwise. The fruit is a nut with often wing-like accrescent sepals.

Scientific interest in this genus has grown considerably because the canopy liana Ancistrocladus korupensis is considered a potential anti-AIDS source by the National Cancer Institute because of its highly effective mode of action against the HIV virus. This plant was discovered in Cameroon and subsequently recognized as a species new to science. Its ingredient michellamine B, an acetogenic napthyl isoquinoline alkaloid, contained in mature leaves, is the active principle. Also korupensamine E is a new antimalarial drug extracted from the same plant.

Ancistrocladus abbreviatus has been used on traditional medicine in Ghana, as treatment against measles and fever. The active ingredient is ancistrobrevine D, an alkaloid extracted from this plant.

Ancistrocline, an alkaloid derived from Ancistrocladus tectorius, is used against dysentery.

Many other alkaloids are still being found in the other species.


  • Ancistrocladus abbreviatus Airy Shaw
    • Ancistrocladus abbreviatus subsp. lateralis Gereau
  • Ancistrocladus attenuatus Dyer (Myanmar)
  • Ancistrocladus barteri Scott-Elliot (Guinea)
  • Ancistrocladus congolensis J. Léonard (Congo)
  • Ancistrocladus ealaensis J. Léonard (Congo)
  • Ancistrocladus extensus Wall. ex Planch. (Cambodia)
  • Ancistrocladus grandiflorus Cheek (Cameroon)
  • Ancistrocladus griffithii Planch.
  • Ancistrocladus guineensis Oliv. (Nigeria)
  • Ancistrocladus hainanensis Hayata. (Hainan, China)
  • Ancistrocladus hamatus (Vahl) Gilg (Sri Lanka)
  • Ancistrocladus heyneanus Wall. ex J. Graham (India)
  • Ancistrocladus korupensis D.W. Thomas & Gereau (Cameroon)
  • Ancistrocladus letestui Pellegr. (Gabon)
  • Ancistrocladus likoko J. Léonard (Congo)
  • Ancistrocladus pentagynus Warb.
  • Ancistrocladus pinangianus Wall. ex Planch.
  • Ancistrocladus robertsoniorum J. Léonard (Kenya)
  • Ancistrocladus sagittatus Wall. ex Planch.
  • Ancistrocladus stelligerus Wall. ex DC.
  • Ancistrocladus tanzaniensis Cheek & Frim. (Tanzania)
  • Ancistrocladus tectorius (Lour.) Merr. (Andaman Islands,Thailand)
  • Ancistrocladus uncinatus Hutch. & Dalziel (Nigeria)
  • Ancistrocladus wallichii Planch.
  • Ancistrocladus sp. (proposed name : Ancistrocladus benomensis) (Malaysia)


  • anti-AIDS source
  • Taylor, Charlotte M., Gereau, Roy E. , and Walters, Gretchen M. (2005). "Revision of Ancistrocladus Wall. (Ancistrocladaceae)". Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden 92 (3): 360–399.
  • Thomas, Duncan W., and Gereau, Roy E. (1993). "Ancistrocladus korupensis (Ancistrocladaceae): A New Species of Liana from Cameroon". Novon 3 (4): 494.
  • Cheek, M. (2000a). A synoptic revision of Ancistrocladus (Ancistrocladaceae) in Africa, with a new species from western Cameroon. Kew Bulletin

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