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Useful Tropical Plants

Securidaca longipedunculata

Fresen.

Polygalaceae

+ Synonyms

Elsota longipedunculata (Fresen.) Kuntze

Common Name: Violet Tree

Securidaca longipedunculata
Destructive harvesting of the tree's roots for traditional medicine.
Photograph by: Marco Schmidt
Creative Commons License
Securidaca longipedunculata Securidaca longipedunculata Securidaca longipedunculata Securidaca longipedunculata

General Information

Violet tree is a spiny, semideciduous shrub or small tree with a much-branched, open, rather straggly looking crown; it can grow from 4 - 12 metres tall[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The bole is often flattened or slightly fluted[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The roots of this species are widely used by local peoples as a medicine to cure a wide range of ailments[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. The plant is commonly gathered from the wild for medicinal use and also as a food and source of materials. A beautiful flowering tree, it has potential as an ornamental in parks and gardens[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
As a consequence of overexploitation, the tree has become much rarer in the wild and is considered to be under threat in its native range. It has, therefore, been given protected status in S. Africa[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

Known Hazards

The tree, but especially the roots, are toxic if taken in excess[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
A saponin found in the roots can cause severe damage to bone marrow and haemolysis when in contact with blood[
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.
]. The solid portion of the root is said to be the most lethal[
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.
].
The root bark also contains 0.42% methyl salicylate. Severe poisoning can result from ingestion of 10 - 30ml of methyl salicylate[
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.
].
In Zambia the crushed and powdered roots are used as an intravaginal or intrarectal poison, and in Gambia as a fish poison[
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.
].
Bark, roots and seeds are used in arrow poison, and root can be used as a snake repellent[
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.
].

Botanical References

200
Title
The New RHS Dictionary of Gardening. 1992.
Publication
 
Author
Huxley. A.
Publisher
MacMillan Press
Year
1992
ISBN
0-333-47494-5
Description
Excellent and very comprehensive, though it contains a number of silly mistakes. Readable yet also very detailed.
,
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 - widespread from Senegal to Eritrea and Ethiopia, south to S. Africa, avoiding the moistest regions.

Habitat

Woodland and arid savannah soils[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. Occurs in a broad range of vegetation, from semi-arid scrub to dense forest, including many woodland and bush habitats and gallery forests at elevations up to 1,600 metres[
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.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *
Medicinal Rating *  *  *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *  *
HabitSemi-deciduous Tree
Height6.00 m
PollinatorsBees, Insects
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the subtropics and tropics, where it is found in a wide range of climates including hot and arid summer rainfall, and equatorial humid; at elevations up to 1,800 metres[
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.
]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, but can tolerate 16 - 36°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. The plant can survive temperatures down to about 1°c[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,000mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,300mm[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
Requires a sunny position[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Grows best in a light, well-drained soil, succeeding even if the fertility is low[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The plant can survive bush fires[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].
The flowers are extremely attractive to birds, butterflies and insects[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

Edible Uses

Young leaves - cooked[
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
]. Eaten as a vegetable or in sauces[
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.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
].

Medicinal

The violet tree is the most popular of all the traditional medicinal plants in South Africa, where it is used for almost every conceivable ailment[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. It is also popularly used throughout its range. The roots are extremely poisonous, smell like wintergreen oil and contain methyl salicylate which may partly indicate why they have a wide diversity of uses, such as arrow poison in some parts of Africa including West Africa[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. The plant is said to have 100 medicinal uses[
214
Title
The New Plantsman. Volume 1, 1994.
Publication
 
Author
Matthews. V.
Publisher
Royal Horticultural Society
Year
1994
ISBN
1352-4186
Description
A quarterly magazine, it has articles on Himalayacalamus hookerianus, hardy Euphorbias and an excellent article on Hippophae spp.
].
The roots and bark are taken orally either powdered or as infusions for treating chest complaints, headache, inflammation, abortion, ritual suicide, tuberculosis, infertility problems, venereal diseases and for constipation[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. Toothache can also be relieved by chewing the roots[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. Mixed roots of the violet tree and dwarf custard apple are used to treat gonorrhoea. Powdered roots or wood scrapings are used to treat headache by rubbing them on the forehead, while infusions from the roots are used to wash tropical ulcer[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]s. In Limpopo, the vhaVenda people use roots for mental disorders and as protection against children's illness during breastfeeding[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. It is also believed that many African people use the powdered violet tree roots as a sexual boost for men[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. The vhaVenda people mix the powdered root with mageu (maize or sorghum beverage) and it is given to a man to drink if he is sexually weak. In Zimbabwe, the roots are used to treat people who are believed to be possessed by evil spirits, for snakebite as well as for coughs when pounded with water and salt[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

The cooked leaves are said to be an effective treatment for snake bites[
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

An ornamental plant, it can be grown as a hedge[
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].

Other Uses

The bark of the roots, or the pounded seeds, can be used as a soap for washing and bleaching items[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
,
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].

A fibre obtained from the inner bark can be used like cotton to weave a coarse cloth[
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 fibre obtained from young branches is particularly strong and durable[
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.
,
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
]. The fibre is said to be of a similar quality to flax (Linum usitatissimum)[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
]. It is also used for fishing nets, baskets and strong threads that are used to sew bark cloth[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

The seeds are rich in oil[
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
]. It is used cosmetically or as a furniture stain[
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.
].

The roots at 350 ppm are 100% effective as a molluscicide[
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.
]..

The wood is light yellow with markedly dark growth rings. It is soft, spongy, but durable and resists the attacks of termites. It is liable to split upon drying. Of little value, it is used for poles, hut construction, brooms etc[
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.
,
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].
The wood makes a good fuel and is used to make charcoal[
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.
,
418
Title
Ecocrop
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://ecocrop.fao.org/ecocrop/srv/en/home
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
Basic information on a wide range of useful plants, plus details of environmental needs where available.
,
774
Title
Trees and Shrubs of the Sahel. Their Characteristics and Uses.
Publication
 
Author
von Maydell H.
Publisher
Deutsche Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit; Germany
Year
1990
ISBN
3-8236-1198-4
Description
A well-researched book, usually with more than one photograph of each species and good information on the plant and its uses.
].

Propagation

Seed - the violet tree is difficult to cultivate from seed, although some writers recommend that the seeds should be soaked thoroughly and then be planted in a sandy soil where the plants will remain, as they do not like to be disturbed[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. Seedlings quickly develop a deep taproot, which is fragile and easily broken. The plant often dies or does very poorly after transplanting due to damage to this taproot. Seeds should either be sown in deep, individual containers and planted out when still small, or they should be sown in situ and given appropriate care.
This tree can also be propagated by taking cuttings of the root shoots, as it does not grow well when transplanted.

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