Commonly by various names such as the Flaming Glorybower, this vigorous vine, native to tropical Africa, is grown for its showy and ornamental red blossoms.
Beautiful these flowers are! – brilliant bright red, very showy, and borne in terminal clusters. The flower corolla is fused into a tube, lobes spreading to 2 cm long. The stamens with their red filaments protrude quite conspicuously out of the corolla like whiskers.
Few people who cultivate this vine probably know that they have an ornamental pharmacopeia at they doorsteps.
In it’s native range in Western Africa, extracts of roots, leaves, and bark from C. splendens are used in traditional medicine to treat various ailments ranging from malaria, coughs, skin diseases, ulcers, rheumatism, asthma, and uterine fibroid, and venereal infections, including gonorrhea and syphilis (Shrivastava & Patel 2007; Okwu & Iroabuchi 2008, 2009; Gbedema et al. 2010).
Recent research further suggests that polysaccharides from leaves of the plant have ability to modulate the immune systems, and may thus have beneficial effects for people with autoimmune disease (Kouakou et al. 2013).
Impressive list for a garden ornamental!
Gbedema SY, Emelia K, Francis A, Kofi A, Eric W. 2010. Wound healing properties and kill kinetics of Clerodendron splendens G. Don, a Ghanaian wound healing plant. Pharmacognosy Res 2:63–68.
Kouakou K, Schepetkin IA, Jun S, Kirpotina LN, Yapi A, Khramova DS, Pascual DW, Ovodov YS, Jutila MA, Quinn MT. 2013. Immunomodulatory activity of polysaccharides isolated from Clerodendrum splendens: Beneficial effects in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis. BMC complementary and alternative medicine 13: 149.
Okwu DE, Iroabuchi F. 2008. Isolation of an antioxidant flavanone diglycoside from the Nigeria medicinal plant Clerodendron splendens, a. Cheval. Int J Chem Sci 2008, 6:631–636.
Okwu DE, Iroabuchi F: Phytochemical composition and biological activities of Uvaria chamae and Clerodendoron splendens . E-Journal Chem 2009, 6:553–560.
Shrivastava N, Patel T. 2007. Clerodendrum and healthcare: an overview. Medicinal Aromatic Plant Sci Biotech 1:140–150.