Thonningia angolensis Hemsl.
Thonningia coccinea Mangenot
Thonningia dubia Hemsl.
Thonningia elegans Hemsl.
Thonningia sessilis Lecomte
Thonningia ugandensis Hemsl.
Thonningia sanguinea is an obligate parasite of trees and perennial woody plants, unable to produce chlorophyll and totally dependant upon the host for its nutrients. Generally, the plant produces a stout long rhizome, tuberous at the point of attachment to the host’s roots. Only the scaly flower-heads appear above ground , growing up to 7cm tall[
The rhizomes are often gathered from the wild for local use as a flavouring and medicine. They are a common article of market trade in N Nigerian markets[
The flowers are incorporated into arrow poisons[
]. This report does not make it clear if the flowers are believed to be poisonous, or whether they are used to enhance the action of the toxin[
Tropical Africa - Senegal to Ethiopia, south to Angola, Zambia and Tanzania.
Common in rain-forest, gallery forest and adjacent woodland; rarer in savannah; associated with Chrysophyllum albidum, Cola gigantea, Erythrophleum suaveolens, Alstonia boonei, Parinari excelsa, Milicia excelsa, at elevations up to 1,700 metres[
The plant can parasitize plantation crops such as Hevea, oil-palm and cacao. Infestation is not normally fatal, but it must cause some loss of vigour in the host. Heavy infestation, however, has been recorded on Hevea trees in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, where trees have been killed[
The aromatic root is used as a spice[
]. They are used for flavouring soups, etc[
A decoction of the flowers is used to treat sore throats and laryngitis[
]. The flower-heads, combined with other medicines, are used as a vermifuge[
The red-coloured flowers are crushed with a pimento into a paste for use as an enema in the treatment of haemorrhoids[
]. The paste is also rubbed onto stiff necks[
Combined with other plants, the inflorescence is used in the treatment of leprosy, cutaneous infections, and paralysis[
Ash from the burnt flowers is applied to the soles of the feet to treat ulceration (? Yaws)[
Sap expressed from the flower-heads is used as an eye-instillation for rachitic children and premature babies[
The roots are vermifuge[
]. A decoction of the root is used in the treatment of rheumatism[
The whole plant, pounded up, is used as an aphrodisiac and astringent[
]. It is used in the treatment of dysentery and blennorrhoea[
An ointment is prepared for treating swellings on the neck and around the ears[
]. The whole plant is prepared as a plaster to maturate abscesses, and crushed and diluted in water is used as a mouth-wash for dental caries, gingivitis and mouth-infections[
The rhizome and flowers, without the red bracts, are made into an ointment for application to skin-diseases[
The sap is given to a suckling infant with fever in the form of an embrocation which is applied to the infant’s body after the tummy has been pricked with the flower-head scales[
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