Acokanthera spectabilis (Sond.) Hook.f.
Acokanthera venenata spectabilis (Sond.) Sim
Carissa oblongifolia Hochst.
Carissa spectabilis (Sond.) Pichon
Jasminonerium oblongifolium (Hochst.) Kuntze
Toxicophlaea spectabilis Sond.
Acokanthera oblongifolia is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing up to 6 metres tall[
The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of poisons. A beautiful plant, especially when in flower, but probably too poisonous to be grown in gardens[
The fruit is highly toxic, especially when unripe, but the ripe fruits have also caused fatalities in children[
The stem bark and root bark are used as a potent arrow poison, for homicide, suicide and to kill stray dogs[
Contact with the plant can cause urticari, smarting of the eyes and skin, and throat irritation[
Eastern Africa - Mozambique, S. Africa.
Dry forests and thickets on coastal dunes[
A plant mainly found in the subtropics, just moving into the tropics in Mozambique. It is found at lowland elevations up to 950 metres[
]. Established plants can tolerate some frost.
Succeeds in full sun, but prefers a position with some shade. Established plants are drought resistant.
Although very poisonous, the plant is used locally in Africa, especially to treat snakebites and as an emetic. Numerous cardenolides have been detected in the wood, leaves, seeds and fruit, the most important being acovenosides A and B, which both have cardio-vascular properties[
]. Other cardenolides that were isolated are acovenoside C, spectabiline and acopieroside II. The last compound shows a higher activity than digitalin and digoxin as a cardiotonic. The seeds yielded acobioside A and 14-O-acetyl-acovenoside C; the latter showed marked cardiotonic activity in dogs[
To treat snakebites, a small amount of the leaves is eaten, a leaf decoction is drunk and the leaf pulp is rubbed into the wound, root powder is sniffed and roots or leaves are put on the swollen part as a dressing[
Root scrapings are rubbed into the skin as a treatment against itch[
A wood or leaf decoction is drunk or administered as an enema as a cure for internal worms[
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