Voacanga angolensis Stapf ex Hiern
Voacanga angustifolia K.Schum.
Voacanga bequaertii De Wild.
Voacanga boehmii K.Schum.
Voacanga eketensis Wernham
Voacanga glaberrima Wernham
Voacanga glabra K.Schum.
Voacanga klainii Pierre ex Stapf
Voacanga lemosii Philipson
Voacanga lutescens Stapf
Voacanga magnifolia Wernham
Voacanga puberula K.Schum.
Voacanga schweinfurthii Stapf
Voacanga spectabilis Stapf
Voacanga africana is an evergreen shrub or tree growing from 1 - 11 metres tall and branching from low down[
]. The bole can be 2 - 30cm in diameter[
The tree has a long history of traditional medicinal use in Africa, where it also supplies food and a range of commodities. Various parts of the plant are exported to pharmaceutical companies in Europe, America etc as a source of medicinal compounds[
]. The plant is sometimes grown as an ornamental, being valued for its sweet-scented flowers[
Tropical Africa - Senegal to Sudan and Kenya, south to Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
An understorey tree of forest, secondary jungle and savannah woodland[
]. Open woodland or light forest; riverine forests; in savannahs it is only found in moist places; at elevations up to 1,000 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
The plant is not frost resistant, but plants will survive if protected for the first 3 years[
The wood is burnt to make a salt[
The latex obtained from the tree is applied to wounds and into carious teeth[
An extract of the bark is used for washing sores[
The plant (parts unspecified, possibly the bark-sap) is used in Congo for treating sores, furuncles, abscesses, fungal infections, filaria and eczema[
A root decoction is taken orally by women to ward off the untoward consequences of premature or precipitant parturition and to treat dysmenorrhoea[
]. The same prescription is used as a treatment for painful hernias. A bark or root-decoction is used to treat heart-troubles (spasms, angina?)[
A decoction of the leaves is taken orally as a strengthener and is a treatment for fatigue due to shortness of breath[
The leaf decoction is taken by enema to treat diarrhoea; it is used in baths to treat general oedema; by frictions and draughts for leprosy; and in a lotion to treat convulsions in infants[
The sap of the leaves is used as nose-drops in treating insanity[
All parts of the plant are rich in alkaloids, especially the bark: the root-bark contains 5 - 10%; the stem-bark 4 - 5%; the seeds 1.5%; the leaves 0.3 - 0.45%.
Voacamine is the principle alkaloid present followed by voacangine, voacangarine, voacorine and vobtusine[
]. Many other alkaloids have also been identified, as well as the presence of small amounts of tannins and flavonoids[
]. The alkaloids are of particular interest to the pharmaceutical industry. They show a vast range of pharmacological activities including analgesic, antibacterial, anticonvulsant, cardiotonic, cytotoxic, diuretic, hypotensive, vasoconstrictor, central nervous sytem-stimulant, and exerting a spasmolytic effect on the smooth muscle of the intestine[
]. Several of the compounds are extracted from the plant for use in medical preparations[
There is an abundant white latex in the bark and other parts of the tree. It does not coagulate and has been used to adulterate better rubbers[
]. Children use it to make balls to play with[
The bark contains a fibre which is used to make a yarn, and which may also be admixed with cotton or other fibres for making mats[
A seed oil is obtained as a by-product of the pharmaceutical industry obtaining medicinal compounds[
]. It has cosmetic and nutritional value[
The wood is soft and the bole often hollow[
]. Considered to be of low quality, it is sometimes used locally as poles for building purposes and to make musical instruments[
]. Arrows and knife sheaths are made from the branches[
The wood is also used for fuel[
Seed - pre-soaking for 12 hours in warm water can improve germination results[
]. The seed is quite easy to germinate - it can be sown in light shade in nursery seedbeds or individual containers. Germination rates can be quite good, reaching up to 90% after 7 weeks[
Dry seeds store well under cool conditions. Seed storage behaviour is orthodox; viability is maintained for more than 3 years in airtight storage at ambient temperature with 11 - 15% humidity[
Cuttings are possible but success rates are generally low[
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