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Lophira alata

Lophira alata

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Encyclopedia
Lophira alata is a species of plant
Plant
Plants are living organisms belonging to the kingdom Plantae. Precise definitions of the kingdom vary, but as the term is used here, plants include familiar organisms such as trees, flowers, herbs, bushes, grasses, vines, ferns, mosses, and green algae. The group is also called green plants or...

 in the Ochnaceae
Ochnaceae
The family Ochnaceae, or wild plane family, comprises mainly trees or shrubs, and more rarely herbaceous plants. Species of the Ochnaceae are found from subtropical to tropical regions. They are best represented in South America...

 family. It is found in Cameroon
Cameroon
Cameroon, officially the Republic of Cameroon , is a country in west Central Africa. It is bordered by Nigeria to the west; Chad to the northeast; the Central African Republic to the east; and Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, and the Republic of the Congo to the south. Cameroon's coastline lies on the...

, the Republic of the Congo
Republic of the Congo
The Republic of the Congo , sometimes known locally as Congo-Brazzaville, is a state in Central Africa. It is bordered by Gabon, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo , the Angolan exclave province of Cabinda, and the Gulf of Guinea.The region was dominated by...

, the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Democratic Republic of the Congo
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is a state located in Central Africa. It is the second largest country in Africa by area and the eleventh largest in the world...

, Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea
Equatorial Guinea, officially the Republic of Equatorial Guinea where the capital Malabo is situated.Annobón is the southernmost island of Equatorial Guinea and is situated just south of the equator. Bioko island is the northernmost point of Equatorial Guinea. Between the two islands and to the...

, Gabon
Gabon
Gabon , officially the Gabonese Republic is a state in west central Africa sharing borders with Equatorial Guinea to the northwest, Cameroon to the north, and with the Republic of the Congo curving around the east and south. The Gulf of Guinea, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean is to the west...

, Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

, Liberia
Liberia
Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

, Nigeria
Nigeria
Nigeria , officially the Federal Republic of Nigeria, is a federal constitutional republic comprising 36 states and its Federal Capital Territory, Abuja. The country is located in West Africa and shares land borders with the Republic of Benin in the west, Chad and Cameroon in the east, and Niger in...

, Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

, Sudan
Sudan
Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...

, and Uganda
Uganda
Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

. Its natural habitat
Habitat
* Habitat , a place where a species lives and grows*Human habitat, a place where humans live, work or play** Space habitat, a space station intended as a permanent settlement...

 is subtropical or tropical moist lowland forest
Forest
A forest, also referred to as a wood or the woods, is an area with a high density of trees. As with cities, depending where you are in the world, what is considered a forest may vary significantly in size and have various classification according to how and what of the forest is composed...

s. It is threatened by habitat loss.

In Ghana
Ghana
Ghana , officially the Republic of Ghana, is a country located in West Africa. It is bordered by Côte d'Ivoire to the west, Burkina Faso to the north, Togo to the east, and the Gulf of Guinea to the south...

, it is known by the local name Kaku. The timber is extremely hard and used for railroad tie
Railroad tie
A railroad tie/railway tie , or railway sleeper is a rectangular item used to support the rails in railroad tracks...

s and bridge planking.

Description


The trunk of the azobé is usually straight, without buttresses, but sometimes with a swollen base, and is usually clear of branches up to about 30 metres (98.4 ft). The bark is typically red-brown in colour, up to two centimetres thick, and has a bright yellow layer underneath. Young trees under four metres in height have greenish-grey bark, which becomes pink or light brown as the tree matures. Inside, the living sapwood is pale pink or whitish in colour, while the inner heartwood is dark red-brown to chocolate brown, with conspicuous white deposits of silica. The leaves of the azobé are up to 25 centimetres (9.8 in) long and are tough, fairly narrow and elongated, with a rounded or slightly indented tip, and tend to occur in clusters at the ends of the twigs.

Biology


The azobé sheds all its leaves during a short period of one to two weeks, usually in December, and the re-growth of bright red young leaves, often simultaneously on all azobé trees in an area, can set the canopy ablaze with colour. The flowers of the azobe are white, fairly large, strong-smelling, and grouped in loose, branched, terminal inflorescences. Flowering occurs in adult trees with trunks over 50 centimetres in diameter, and takes place from the time the new leaves appear. Azobé is monoecious, meaning that male and female flowers are found on the same tree, and the flowers are insect-pollinated. Fruiting takes place between January and March, the fruits becoming mature around March to April, although fruits do not always appear every year. The fruits, which are wind-dispersed, contain a single, oil-rich seed in a conical capsule, which is brown when mature and is surrounded by two unequally-sized membranous ‘wings’, one up to six centimetres long and the other twice that size. Although the azobé needs full sunlight to grow, seedlings can persist for some time in the shady undergrowth and resume growth if breaks in the canopy occur.

Uses


Sniffing the bark is used as a traditional treatment for headache
Headache
A headache or cephalalgia is pain anywhere in the region of the head or neck. It can be a symptom of a number of different conditions of the head and neck. The brain tissue itself is not sensitive to pain because it lacks pain receptors. Rather, the pain is caused by disturbance of the...

. The leaves of the Lophira alata afforded two new biflavonoids, lophirone L (1) and lophirone M (2), and the known luteolin and lithospermoside. Both biflavonoids were obtained in small quantities, and their structures show some new and unusual biflavonoid diversity. Likewise, two chalcone tetramers were isolated as inhibitors of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-activation induced by a tumor promoter, teleocidin B-4, from Lophira alata. One of them was identified as lophirachalcone. The other, named alatachalcone, was new, and the structure was determined by spectral properties. Both compounds also showed potent inhibitory activities against teleocidin B-4-induced inflammation on mouse ear. In an initiation-promotion experiment on mouse skin, alatachalcone (16 nmol) significantly inhibited tumor promotion caused by 12-O-tetradecanoylphorbol-13-acetate (TPA, 1.6 nmol).