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

Vernonia fasciculata

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Botanical Name : Vernonia fasciculata
Family : Asteraceae (Aster Family)
Common Name : Prairie ironweed, Common ironweed, Smooth ironweed

Habitat :Smooth Ironweed is fairly common in in the northern half of Illinois, but uncommon elsewhere in the state . Habitats include wet to moist black soil prairies, riverbottom prairies, marshes, sloughs along railroads, and edges of fields. Smooth Ironweed is found in wetland habitats to a greater extent than other species of Ironweeds.

Vernonia fasciculata is a perennial plant. It grows   2-4′ tall and unbranched. The central stem is round, hairless, and white, light green, or reddish purple. The alternate leaves are up to 5″ long and ½” across. They are narrowly lanceolate, narrowly ovate, or linear. Their margins are serrated, while the upper and lower leaf surfaces are hairless. The lower leaf surface also has a prominent central vein, and black dots may be present. The leaves are sessile against the stem, or they have short petioles. The central stem terminates in a flat-topped cluster of magenta compound flowers (i.e., a corymb). This flower cluster is quite dense, rather than loose and spreading. The flowering stalks may be slightly pubescent. A compound flower consists of 15-30 disk florets with a short cylinder of green bracts underneath. These bracts are appressed together like fish scales, and they are often slightly ciliate. The cylinder of bracts spans about 1/5″ across. A disk floret is magenta, with 5 spreading lobes and a prominent divided style. The blooming period occurs from late summer to early fall, and lasts about a month. There is no noticeable floral scent. The flowers are replaced by achenes that have a pappus of hair-like scales. These achenes can be blown several feet from the mother plant by gusts of wind. The root system is spreading and fibrous.

Cultivation: The preference is full sun, moist conditions, and fertile soil. Partial sun and slightly moister or drier conditions are also tolerated. This plant can withstand occasional flooding for short periods of time. The foliage is not bothered by pests and disease to any significant extent.

Medicinal Uses:
The root is bitter tonic used to improve the blood.Particularly useful in female  complaints, amenorrhea,dysmenorrhea,leucorrhea and menorrhagia. Considering a certain remedy for chills and intermitent and bilious fevers, and also valuable in scorfula, diseases of the skin and in constitunal syphilis. Some herbalist employed in the treatment of dyspepsia.

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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