Herbs & Plants

Vernonia amygdalina

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Botanical Name :Vernonia amygdalina
Family: Asteraceae
Genus: Vernonia
Species: V. amygdalina
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales

Common Names:Ewuro (Ibdan, Nigeria), Etidot (Cross River State of Nigeria),Bitter leaf

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.

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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.

Medicinal Uses:
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.

Other Uses:
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.


Click to access Vernonia_amygdalina.pdf

Herbs & Plants


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Botanical Name : Spathodea campanulata
Family: Bignoniaceae
Tribe: Tecomeae
Genus: Spathodea
Species: S. campanulata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Lamiales

Synonym(s): Spathodea nilotica Seem.

Common Names : Fountain Tree, African Tulip Tree, Pichkari or Nandi Flame
(Cantonese) : neerukayi mara
(English) : African tulip tree, flame of the forest, fountain tree, Nandi flame, Nile flame, squirt tree, tulip tree, Uganda flame
(French) : immortel éntranger
(Hindi) : rugtoora
(Luganda) : kifabakazi
(Malay) : panchut-panchut
(Sinhala) : kudaella gaha, kudulu
(Spanish) : amapola, espatodea, mampolo, tulipán africano
(Swahili) : kibobakasi, kifabakazi
(Tamil) : patadi
(Trade name) : flame of the forest, Nandi flame

Habitat :Spathodea campanulata  is native to Angola, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia
Exotic : Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, India, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar

It grows naturally in Africa in secondary forests in the high forest zone and in deciduous, transition, and savannah forests. It colonizes even heavily eroded sites, though form and growth rate suffer considerably on difficult sites.

The species is found throughout tropical Africa and is widely grown as an ornamental.

Spathodea campanulata is medium sized, reaching a height of 10-35 m, deciduous, with a round, heavy crown of dense, dark foliage, sometimes somewhat flattened; young bark pale, grey-brown and smooth but turns grey-black, scaly and cracked vertically and horizontally with age. The opposite imparipinnate leaves are exstipulate. Each leaf consists of 5-7 pairs of opposite leaflets and a terminal one. The leaflets are oblong-elliptic, about 1 cm long and 0.5 cm broad, entire, broadly acuminate, unequal at the base, dark green on top and light green on the underside; there are glandular swellings at the base of the lamina (usually a pair); the midrib and nerves are yellow, raised and very slightly pubescent; the venation is reticulate; the short, thick petiole is about 0.7 cm long; there are conspicuous lenticels on the rachis; rachis base is swollen. Flowers large, red, hermaphrodite, orange inside; calyx green, about 1 cm long and split on the posterior side, ribbed and tomentellous; petals 5, each about 1.5 cm long; stamens 4 with orange filaments; style extruding with a 2-lipped stigma; flower buds curved and contain a red sap. A yellow-flowered variety has been reported. Fruit upstanding, dark brown, cigar-shaped, woody pod, 15-25 cm long and split on the ground into 2 boat-shaped valves, releasing many flat-winged seeds; 1-4 pods usually develop from 1 flower cluster; seeds thin, flat and surrounded by a filmy wing. The generic name comes from the Greek word ‘spathe’ (blade), from the shape of the corolla. The specific name means pertaining to a Campanula, a name coined in 1542 by Fuchs for the type of corolla with a broad rounded base and a gradually expanded tube corresponding to the sound bow of a church bell.

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The flower bud is ampule-shaped and contains water. These buds are often used by children who play with its ability to squirt the water. The sap sometimes stains yellow on fingers and clothes. The open flowers are cup-shaped and hold rain and dew, making them attractive to many species of birds. In Neotropical gardens and parks, their nectar is popular with many hummingbirds, such as the Black-throated Mango (Anthracothorax nigricollis), the Black Jacobin (Florisuga fusca), or the Gilded Hummingbird (Hylocharis chrysura). The wood of the tree is soft and is used for nesting by many hole-building birds such as barbets. It was discovered way back in 1787 on the Gold Coast of Africa

Propagation :
Natural reproduction takes place on bare ground, in grass, and under weeds and brush. Seeds may be collected by harvesting the pods after they turn brown and allowing them to air-dry until they split open. The germinating seeds are fragile and should be covered by a thin film of peat or sand and should not be exposed to hard rain. Vegetative reproduction is easily carried out with cuttings or root suckers.

Medicinal Uses:
The bark has laxative and antiseptic properties, and the seeds, flowers and roots are used as medicine. The bark is chewed and sprayed over swollen cheeks. The bark may also be boiled in water used for bathing newly born babies to heal body rashes.

Edible Uses: The seeds are edible and used in many parts of Africa.

Other Uses:  Timber: In its original habitat, the soft, light brownish-white wood is used for carving and making drums.This tree is  recommended as a shade tree for parks and yards; it has been used for coffee shade.Spathodea  campanulata helps rehabilitate disturbed lands through its quick invasion and rapid growth. Ornamental:Spathodea campanulata has been planted as an ornamental throughout the tropics. The flowers bloom with great profusion, and the trees can be seen from great distances. It is not browsed by domestic animals and is popular as a decorative tree for avenues. Boundary or barrier or support: The species, either planted or growing naturally, is frequently used for living fence posts.

Known Hazards: The hard central portion of the fruit is used to kill animals.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider


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