Herbs & Plants

Azima tetracantha

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Botanical Name :Azima tetracantha
Family: Salvadoraceae
Genus: Azima
Species: A. tetracantha
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Brassicales
Synonyms: Azima spinosissima Engl. (1894).,Monetia barlerioides L’Her.
Common Names:Kanta-gur-kamal, Kantangur, Kundali
Vernacular names : Bee sting bush, fire thorn, needle bush (En). Mdunga ndewe, mswaki ndume, mpilipili tawa (Sw).

Habitat : Azima tetracantha occurs naturally in central, eastern and southern Africa as well as in the Indian Ocean islands, and extends through Arabia to tropical Asia.

Dioecious, erect shrub up to 90 cm tall with (1–)2 spines 0.5–5 cm long in each leaf axil, sometimes scandent with stems up to 8 m long; branchlets terete or quadrangular, glabrous to densely hairy. Leaves decussately opposite, simple and entire; stipules absent or rudimentary; petiole short; blade elliptical-oblong to ovate-oblong or orbicular, 1.5–5.5 cm × 0.5–4.5 cm, base rounded or somewhat narrowed, apex mucronate, pinnately veined with one pair of lateral veins from near the base. Inflorescence an axillary, sometimes terminal spike or cyme up to 3 cm long or flowers solitary; bracts ovate, often with long and spinous mucro. Flowers unisexual, regular, 4-merous, usually sessile; calyx campanulate, 2–4 mm long, with triangular lobes; petals linear-oblong to oblong, greenish to yellowish, the upper part reflexed over the calyx, 2–5 mm long; male flowers with stamens inserted at the base of the rudimentary ovary, exserted; female flowers with staminodes and superior ovary, up to 4.5 mm long with a broad sessile stigma. Fruit a globose berry, 0.5–1 cm in diameter, 1–2-seeded, green turning white, with persistent stigma. Seeds disk-like, brown to black.

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Azima comprises about 4 species in mainland Africa, Madagascar and Asia and is characterized by long axillary spines. Over the range of its distribution Azima tetracantha varies considerably, yet it is an easily recognizable and distinct species. In southern Africa the male plants lack spines, or have poorly developed ones, while female specimens have long spines.

Cultivation & Propagation: A few specialist nurseries in the United States offer seeds of Azima tetracantha for sale for ornamental purposes. Multiplication through cuttings is possible.

The South African Department of Agriculture considers Azima tetracantha an indicator of bush encroachment. Land users in certain areas are required to control the species to prevent deterioration and maintain the productivity of pastoral land. Overgrazing is the main reason for encroachment.
When used as a hedge or barrier plant, it needs to be pruned regularly to keep a compact shape.

Genetic resources
Azima tetracantha is a common, widespread pioneer and thus there is no immediate risk of overharvesting for human use.

The use of Azima tetracantha appears to be limited and only occasional in Africa. As all parts contain glucosinolates, further research on medicinal applications is warranted.
Edible Uses: The fruit is edible. Azima tetracantha is browsed by livestock. It is planted as live fence in Bangalore (India). In Malaysia pickled leaves are used as an appetizer and against colds.

Medicinal Uses:
In East Africa the pounded roots of Azima tetracantha are applied directly to snakebites and an infusion is taken orally as a treatment for them, while in Zimbabwe a mixture of roots and leaves is used similarly. The Bajun people of the Kenyan coast use a root decoction to treat stomach disorders. In Madagascar an infusion of the leaves is used to treat venereal diseases. In the Cape Province of South Africa the juice of the berries is applied directly into the ear to treat earache and the dried root is ground, put in cold water and given to cows to facilitate difficult parturition. The Zulu people of South Africa apply the sap of the plant directly to treat toothache and bleeding gums after tooth extraction and also as a disinfectant. In India and Sri Lanka the root, root bark and leaves are added to food as a remedy for rheumatism. The plant is considered diuretic and is also used to treat dropsy, dyspepsia, chronic diarrhoea and as a stimulant tonic. In western India juice of the leaves is applied as eardrops against earache and crushed leaves are placed on painful teeth.

Other Uses:The plant is promoted as an ornamental in the United States.

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.


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