Asclepias convolvulacea Willd.
Asclepias daemia Forssk.
Asclepias muricata Schumach. & Thonn.
Asclepias scandens P.Beauv.
Cynanchum extensum Jacq.
Daemia aethiopica Decne.
Daemia extensa (Jacq.) R.Br.
Daemia scandens G.Don
Pergularia extensa (Jacq.) N.E.Br.
Trellis-vine climbing in an Umbrella thorn on the Springbok Flats, Limpopo, South Africa. Fruit can be seen at top left.
Photograph by: JMK
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Pergularia daemia is a high climbing herbaceous climbing plant that scrambles over the ground or twines into other plants for support. The stems are somewhat woody at the base[
The plant has a range of traditional medicinal uses, as well as supplying food and a fibre. The roots and leafy twigs are traded for medicinal use in local markets of Africa[
]. Because of its sweet-scented flowers and its climbing habit, the plant is cultivated as a pergola ornamental in tropical gardens[
A highly toxic plant, especially the aerial parts, due to the presence of numerous cardenolides and cardenolide glycoside; these have digitalis-like cardio-activity[
The latex in the plant is poisonous. It is used as a fishing and hunting poison, and is added to water to poison animals[
Africa - widely distributed, especially in the drier areas, extending through Arabia to India and Sri Lanka.
Dry bushland, savannah or forest margins, as well as near seasonal watercourses on shrubs in more arid localities, from sea-level up to elevations of 1,200 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Some caution is advised on all the uses detailed below - see notes above on toxicity.
Tender leaves and young stems - cooked and eaten as a potherb or combined with mashed yam[
]. A bitter flavour[
Flowers - cooked and eaten as a potherb[
The tuberous roots are sometimes cooked and eaten[
The fruit is sometimes eaten[
Pergularia daemia is a popular traditional medicine in Africa where numerous uses have been reported for all parts of the plant throughout its distribution area. Modern research has shown the presence of a wide range of medically active compounds, especially glycosides. The plant is also toxic causing an immediate and sustained rise of carotid blood pressure when taken in excess. Complex effects on the respiratory system and intestinal movements are also present combined with a generally cardiotoxic effect upon the heart with marked depression of both auricles and ventricles, resulting in ventricular fibrillation and ultimate stoppage of the heart in diastole[
]. Therefore any use of the plant should only be carried out under the guidance of a skilled practitioner.
The glycosides have been shown to have a strong action on uterus contraction[
A methanolic extract of the aerial parts has shown significant activity against Herpes simplex virus, influenza virus, rhinovirus, poliovirus and several other viruses[
A leaf extract showed moderate antioxidant activity in vitro[
An ethanolic extract of the aerial parts of the plant at an oral dose of 200 mg/kg exhibited a significant protective effect on the liver by lowering different blood serum levels. The extracts showed no signs of toxicity up to a dose level of 2000 mg/kg[
An extract of aerial parts demonstrated significant anti-inflammatory, antipyretic and analgesic activities[
The leaves and young stems are considered aperitive, anthelmintic, expectorant, emetic and emmenagogue[
]. Taken as infusions or decoctions, they are used to treat liver problems, fainting, diarrhoea, dysentery, colic, rheumatism, painful joints and limbs, cramps in the legs, malaria, appendicitis, amenorrhoea, venereal diseases and tachycardia arising from overexertion or fright[
An enema of a leaf infusion is given to facilitate child-birth, as it stimulates muscle contraction and also arterial blood pressure[
]. The crushed leaves, combined with Capsicum peppers, are given as an enema to treat tetanus.
The crushed leaves, or sometimes the crushed young fruits, are applied externally to boils, abscesses, subcutaneous worm infections and eczema[
The latex is applied to sore eyes and aching teeth, is used as a liniment to treat rheumatism, asthma and oedema, and to combat abscesses and snakebites and remove thorns from the skin[
An infusion of the roots is taken against stomach-ache, colic and cough, and as an abortifacient. The roots may also simply be chewed to treat cough. A root decoction is taken to treat venereal diseases, arthritis, muscular pain, asthma and rheumatism[
Powder from roasted roots or leaves is applied to wounds[
Pergularia daemia is a deep-rooted shrub traditionally preserved in fields in the semi-arid zones of Mali for its soil-improving properties[
]. In a field test the grain weight, the head weight and the plant length of pearl millet (Pennisetum glaucum) showed significant increase in the vicinity of the shrub[
The stems yield a strong fibre, which is used in many places for making rope and fishing lines[
]. The fibre is said to resist fire longer than other species[