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Botanical Name :Vernonia amygdalina
Species: V. amygdalina
African common names include grawa (Amharic), ewuro (Yoruba), etidot (Ibibio), onugbu (Igbo), ityuna (Tiv), oriwo (Edo), chusar-doki (Hausa), muluuza (Luganda), labwori (Acholi), and olusia (Luo).
The genus was named in honour of an English botanist, William Vernon, traveller and plant collector in North America in the 17th century. The specific name means ‘like an almond’—the allusion is not clear.
Habitat : Vernonia amygdalina grows in the tropical Africa.
Vernonia amygdalina is a bushy shrub or well-formed tree up to 7 m in height. Bark light grey or brown, rather rough and longitudinally flaking; branches brittle.
The leaves are green with a characteristic odour and a bitter taste Leaves are lanceolate to oblong; up to 28 x 10 cm, but usually about 10-15 x 4-5 cm. Leathery, medium to dark green, with or without sparse hairs above, with fine, soft, pale hairs below and conspicuous net-veining; apex and base tapering, base always almost symmetric, margin entire or very finely toothed; petiole usually very short but may be 1-2 cm long.
Flower heads thistlelike, small, creamy-white, sometimes slightly touched with mauve, about 10 mm long, grouped in dense heads, axillary and terminal, forming large flat clusters about 15 cm in diameter but not conspicuous; sweetly scented, especially in the evening. Fruit a small nutlet, with minute glands and bristly hairs on the body and a
long tuft of bristly hairs at the top.
No seeds are produced and the tree has therefore to be distributed through cutting.
Grows under a range of ecological zones in Africa and produces large mass of forage and is drought tolerant (Hutchioson and Dalziel, 1963 cited by Bonsi et al., 1995a). There are about 200 species of Vernonia.
The leaves may be consumed either as a vegetable (macerated leaves in soups) or aqueous extracts as tonics for various illnesses. Many herbalists and naturopathic doctors recommend aqueous extracts for their patients for emesis, nausea, diabetes, loss of appetite-induced abrosia, dysentery and other gastrointestinal tract problems. Until the last decade or so, there were only anecdotal reports and claims to support the health benefits
In a preliminary clinical trial, a decoction of 25 g fresh leaves of V. amygdalina was 67% effective in creating an adequate clinical response in African patients with mild falciparum malaria. Of these 32% had complete parasite clearance. Unfortunately 71% of subjects had recrudescence (that is, recurrence of symptoms). The treatment was without significant adverse effects.
Vernonia amygdalina has been observed to be eaten by goats in Central Zone of Delta State, Nigeria. However, in general has there been found, that Vernonia amygdalina have an astringent taste, which affects its intake (Bonsi et al., 1995a). The bitter taste is due to anti-nutritional factors such as alkaloids, saponins, tannins and glycosides (Buttler and Bailey, 1973; Ologunde et al., 1992 cited by Bonsi et al. 1995a; Anonymous, 1999). It has been tried to mix Vernonia with molasses to make it more palatable, but 6.6 % of DM intake had to be added to improve the intake of Vernonia. During the dry periode Dairy farmers from Southern Ethiopia feed boiled Vernonia, since the boiling decreases the content of secondary plant compounds and makes the feed more palatable.
Vernonia amygdalina has also been fed to broilers, where it was able to replace 300 g kg-1 of maize-based diet without affecting feed intake, body weight gain and feed efficiency (Teguia et al., 1993 cited by Bonsi et al., 1995a).
In the wild, chimpanzees have been observed to ingest the leaves when suffering from parasitic infections
The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.