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Useful Tropical Plants

Rauvolfia caffra

Sond.

Apocynaceae


The generic name is often mis-spelt as Rauwolfia[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

+ Synonyms

Rauvolfia goetzei Stapf

Rauvolfia gonioclada K.Schum. ex Stapf

Rauvolfia inebrians K.Schum.

Rauvolfia leucopoda K.Schum. ex Stapf

Rauvolfia macrophylla Stapf

Rauvolfia mayombensis Pellegr.

Rauvolfia natalensis Sond.

Rauvolfia obliquinervis Stapf

Rauvolfia ochrosioides K.Schum.

Rauvolfia oxyphylla Stapf

Rauvolfia tchibangensis Pellegr.

Rauvolfia verticillata A.Chev.

Rauvolfia welwitschii Stapf

Common Name:

Rauvolfia caffra
Fruiting branches
Photograph by: Bernard DUPONT
Creative Commons License
Rauvolfia caffra Rauvolfia caffra Rauvolfia caffra

General Information

Rauvolfia caffra is a tree with a dense crown; it can grow up to 40 metres tall. The straight bole can be slightly buttressed, it is up to 1 metre in diameter[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
].
The plant is harvested from the wild mainly for local medicinal use, though it also provides a fibre, wood and a flavouring for beer. It is used as a shade tree in plantations and has potential for use in agroforestry systems. A decorative fast-growing tree for sheltered gardens, it is grown as an ornamental shade tree in southern Africa[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Known Hazards

Although we have seen no specific information for this species, most if not all members of this genus contain poisonous alkaloids[
K
Title
Plants for a Future
Author
Ken Fern
Description
Notes from observations, tasting etc at Plants For A Future and on field trips.
].

Botanical References

308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.

Range

Africa - Togo to Sudan, Uganda and Kenya, south to Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and S. Africa.

Habitat

Rainforest, riverine forest, montane forest and old secondary forest, at elevations from sea-level up to 2,500 metres[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitTree
Height25.00 m
Growth RateFast
Cultivation StatusCultivated, Ornamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

The plant is found from the tropics to the subtropics, where it grows at elevations up to 2,500 metres. It grows in areas where the mean temperatures range from 16 - 24°c and the mean annual rainfall from 500 - 1,270mm[
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. It is intolerant of frost[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The plant needs shade when young; old trees, however, do not tolerate shade[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. It appears to prefer fairly fertile soils that are well drained. It grows in the wild on loamy sands to sandy clay-loam soils. When growing away from rivers and streams it is always associated with the availability of ground water[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
Young trees transplant well[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
When established, the plants have a fast growth rate that can be up to 1.5metres a year[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Roots may be harvested annually in a non-destructive way by cutting them 10cm from the taproot. All plant partsare harvested whenever the need arises[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The tree should not be grown near houses, pavements etc because of its large size and invasive root system[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]
The plant can be coppiced or pollarded[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].

Edible Uses

An extract from the root and the powdered stem bark are added to a local beer made from cooking bananas in order to add a bitter flavour and to increase the alcohol percentage of the drink[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Medicinal

The bark is commonly used in local medicine, especially in east Africa. Much research has been carried out into the compounds contained in the plant, many of them supporting the traditional uses.
The plant contains a large number of indole alkaloids. The total alkaloid content of young root bark is 3%, with the major components ajmaline (1.25%) and serpentine (1.09%), followed by ajmalicine (0.16%), reserpine (0.08%), reserpinine (0.02%) and reserpiline (0.01%)[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The principal alkaloids from the stem bark are ajmaline, norajmaline, ajmalicinine, ajmalicine, and geissoschizol[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The principal alkaloids isolated from the leaves are from the less common indolenine type (raucaffrinoline, perakine and vomilenine) and from the peraksine type (peraksine and dihydroperaksine)[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The seeds yielded 0.012% alkaloids, comprising mainly yohimbine and related compounds, and normacusine B[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Five of the Rauvolfia alkaloids are used in Western medicine: reserpine, reserpinine, deserpidine, ajmalicine and ajmaline[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Reserpine, now no longer widely used, is a well-known antihypertensive, antipsychotic and sedative, although an important side effect is depression[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Reserpinine and deserpidine are reserpine analogues. Both alkaloids have the same effects as reserpine, and can be used to treat the same conditions, but their side effects are reported to be less pronounced[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Ajmalicine is an alpha-adrenergic blocking spasmolytic which, at high doses, reverses the effects of adrenaline, and moderates the activity of the vasomotor centres, especially in the brain stem. It causes an increase of the blood flow to the brain. Ajmalicine is mainly used in products that treat the psychological and behavioural problems associated with senility, as well as stroke and head injuries[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
Ajmaline is an anti-arrhythmic, which substantially decreases the rate of depolarization of atrial and ventricular cells. Its toxicity has limited its uses and it is mainly prescribed against rapid irregular cardiac beat, and some other cardiac dysfunctions. Because of its toxicity it is no longer marketed in several countries[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The root extract showed antibacterial activity against Enterobacter cloacae in vitro, but was not active against a range of other human pathogens[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The stem bark extract showed antibacterial activity against Staphylococcus aureusin vitro[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The root extract showed low to moderate activity against Plasmodium falciparum in vitro[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The stem bark or roots of Rauvolfia caffra can be used fresh or dried and powdered and stored in a closed container for later use. The leaves are usually used fresh[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

A bark decoction is used in traditional medicine as an astringent, purgative or emetic to treat fever, swellings, rheumatism, hepatitis, pneumonia, abdominal pain and as a tranquilizer. A piece of bark is chewed to cure cough and toothache[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. The vapour of a bark decoction is inhaled to treat epilepsy and eye diseases. The stem bark is used to treat venereal diseases[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. A decoction of the bark is taken as a tranquilizer for hysteria, and to treat insomnia[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
The crushed bark is applied against measles or itching rash[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The dried, powdered leaves are sniffed as a cure for headache[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

A root decoction is taken to treat fever, swollen legs, insomnia and palpitation of the heart. The root is used for treating insomnia and insecurity[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. A root decoction is taken to treat abdominal pain, constipation and irregular periods or hypertension[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

A root or bark decoction cooked in porridge is applied to hardened abscesses[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
]. A stem or root bark decoction is taken to treat internal parasites, such as roundworm and tapeworm[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The powdered, unopened inflorescences are applied to sores[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The root sap, mixed with honey, is applied to fractures[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The sap of pounded fruits is used as ear drops to cure earache[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The tree is used to provide shade in coffee plantations, and is an important species in bee keeping in Tanzania due to its multitude of flowers[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
It has prospects as a shade tree in agroforestry systems in East Africa, especially in highland systems with coffee and banana. Its invasive root system, however, requires further study[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].
When growing away from rivers and streams it is always associated with available ground water, therefore it is regarded as an indicator of water[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Other Uses

The bark contains a fibre which is used to make bow strings and cords[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

The wood is yellowish-white with only a small heartwood. It is soft, moderately light in weight and takes nails well. It is suitable for making fruit boxes, kitchen furniture and shelving. Household utensils and drums are sometimes carved from it and it is also used as poles in traditional buildings and for making bee hives[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
392
Title
Indigenous multipurpose trees of Tanzania.
Publication
 
Author
Hines. D.A. & Eckman. K.
Publisher
 
Year
1993
ISBN
0-9697075-0-9
Description
A simple handbook with information on over 50 species of trees found in Tanzania giving details of environmental requirements, cultivation needs, uses etc. It can be downloaded from the Internet.
].
The tree is a good source of fuel[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Propagation

Seed -
Rauvolfia caffraregenerates by seed, cuttingsand suckers. The number of seeds/kg is 4500–5000. Before sowing, the fruit pulp is removedby washing the seeds in water. The seeds are sown in seedling trays filled with a mixture of river sand and compost (1:1), and covered with a thin layer of sand or left on the surface. Germination is fast and reaches up to 80% after two weeks. The seedlings are transplanted into nursery bags when they reach the 3-leaf stage and are 25–30 cm tall. They need regular watering for the first3 months after transplanting into the field. Seeds retain viability only for ashort period of about 1 month at room temperature, although other sources mention that seed germinates even after staying onthe forest floor for a long time[
299
Title
Protabase - Plant Resources of Tropical Africa.
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.prota.org
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent on-line database with detailed information on over 3,200 species of useful plants of Africa.
].

Comments

Stephne Ashworth 07th July 2015 3:37
Are the Rauvolfia caffra susceptible to any disease? My tree has dark spots and the leaves are all wilting.

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