Funtumia africana

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In view of the fact that some tree species are invasive, the world Agroforestry Center (ICRAF) has put in place a policy document on Invasive Alien Species, currently under draft available at Here.

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100 of the World's worst Invasive and Alien Species.




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Funtumia africana is a tropical tree up to 30 m tall (usually shorter) with a straight, cylindrical trunk and a narrow tree crown. Bark brown to dark in colour, thin and slightly fissured becoming granular on old trees. Slash orange exuding latex copiously.

Leaves elliptic or ovate, base round or cuneate, apex acuminate 20 x 9 cm, with approximately 8-14 main lateral veins on each side, leaf margins wavy. Axils on the main lateral veins not pitted.

Flowers yellow-white, fragrant in dense cymes. Corolla tube 6-10 mm, lobes 5-7mm. 

Fruit grey-brown, fusiform, with an acute or acuminate apex, up to 30 cm long, with hairy wind borne seeds.

Funtumia africana and F. elastica are very similar morphologically and distribution wise, when F. elastica latex is rubbed between the fingers the latex coagulates into balls, whereas F. africana does not. The generic epithet is derived from ‘funtum’, a local Ghanaian (Akan dialect) name of the plant. The specific epithet means 'of Africa'.

Ecology

A forest tree commonly composing the second storey in rainforests, F. africana is commonly associated with Elaeis guineensis, Kolobopetalum chevalieri, Dioscorea preusii, Cnestis hirsutus, Tabernaemontana crassa and Alstonia congensis, this association is the Tabernaemontano-Elaeetum guineensis typicum. Bastard wild rubber is also common in forest regrowth.

Native range
Angola, Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda

A forest tree commonly composing the second storey in rainforests, F. africana is commonly associated with Elaeis guineensis, Kolobopetalum chevalieri, Dioscorea preusii, Cnestis hirsutus, Tabernaemontana crassa and Alstonia congensis, this association is the Tabernaemontano-Elaeetum guineensis typicum. Bastard wild rubber is also common in forest regrowth.

Poison: The latex is a weak ingredient and adherent for poisoned arrows.

Erosion control:  The root system of F. africana protects moist forest soil from erosion.

Apiculture: The fragrant yellow-white flowers are visited by bees for nectar and pollen.

Branches and trunk can be used as fuelwood.

Timber:   F. africana wood is white, even textured with a weight of 64 kg/m³. air dry. It is used for cheap joinery, furniture and matchstick manufacture. The wood is also reportedly used for carving stools, doors and miscellaneous household requirements.

Shade or shelter:  The tree casts a heavy, cool shade.

Medicine:  In Africa this species is used to treat urinary incontinence and burns. The leaf and bark are used as enema. The principle alkaloids of F. africana, funtumine and funtumidine are hypotensive.

Gum or resin:  In Kenya, F. africana latex is used as birdlime.

Soil improver:  Leaf litter improves soil fertility of surrounding soil.

Latex or rubber:  F. africana latex polyisoprenes are useless as a source of rubber, Use of bastard wild rubber latex as an adulterant, leads to imperfect coagulation and consequently a valueless rubber.