The generic name is often mis-spelt as Rauwolfia[
Ophioxylon album Gaertn.
Ophioxylon obversum Miq.
Ophioxylon salutiferum Salisb.
Ophioxylon serpentinum L.
Ophioxylon trifoliatum Gaertn.
Rauvolfia obverse (Miq.) Baill.
Rauvolfia trifoliate (Gaertn.) Baill.
Rauvolfia serpentina is an erect, evergreen shrub growing up to 1 metre tall from a yellowish rootstock.
The plant has been used medicinally in India for over 2,000 years, being valued especially for its sedative actions and ability to lower the blood pressure[
]. It is commonly harvested from the wild and is also traded. It is a source of compounds that are used in the pharmaceutical industry.
Although we have seen no specific information for this species, most if not all members of this genus contain poisonous alkaloids[
E. Asia - China, Indian subcontinent, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Indonesia.
Montane forests at elevations of 800 - 1,500 metres in China[
]. Shady places in moist forests[
]. Sunny or shaded places in well-drained rain forest and secondary thickets up to 2,100 metres, sometimes as a weed in sugar cane fields[
A plant of the moist to wet, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 1,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 22 - 30°c, but can tolerate 4 - 35°c[
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,500 - 3,500mm, but tolerates 1,100 - 4,500mm[
Succeeds in full sun and in light shade[
]. Prefers a fertile, well-drained loamy soil[
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, tolerating 5 - 7.5[
The roots can be harvested from plants that are 2 - 3 years old[
Average yield is 2 - 4 tonnes per hectare of air-dried roots per year after the third year[
It is best adapted to a well-distributed rainfall. Mentioned as a useful agroforestry species.
The roots are hypnotic, hypotensive and sedative[
]. They are used particularly in the treatment of hypertension, where they are said to cause a lowering of the blood pressure without dangerous side effects[
], and are considered a specific in the treatment of insanity[
]. They are also used in decoction to treat painful affections of the bowels and to increase uterine contractions when giving birth[
The juice of the leaves is used to remove opacities of the cornea of the eyes and also to treat wounds and itches[
The bark, leaves, and roots are used against snake and scorpion poisoning[
The roots yield up to 1.3% medically active alkaloids, as well as oleoresin and the sterol serposterol[
The alkaloid rauwolfine has been shown to decrease the heart rate[
Several alkaloids, including serpentine, neoajmaline and isoajmaline, produce a fall in blood pressure[
]. Serpentine also causes an increase in the tone of the small intestine and decrease in the peristaltic contractions of the intestine[
The alkaloid-free oleoresin extract from the roots produces sedative and hypnotic effects[
Reserpine, a highly active alkaloid, shows a very marked hypnotic effect and lowers blood pressure[
]. It is used in allopathic medicine[
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