Herbs & Plants

Xysmalobium undulatum

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Botanical Name :Xysmalobium undulatum
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Asclepiadeae
Subtribe: Asclepiadinae
Genus: Xysmalobium
Species: Xysmalobium undulatum

Common Names: Uzara,cream cups (Eng.); bitterwortel (Afr.)

Habitat : Xysmalobium undulatum grows in the grassland and savanna of South Africa in Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North-West Provinces.

Pachycarpus schinzianus is a rough-textured, erect perennial herb 0.3 to 0.6 m tall that resprouts from an underground rootstock.
The leaves are simple, large, lanceolate and leathery, with rough hairs. They are up to 100 mm long, with wavy margins usually with a red or maroon edge.The flowers are large, cup-shaped , with recurved upper tips and are carried in clusters of about four on the tips of the branches. The flowers are cream-coloured to yellowish to pink. The corona always has a maroon blotch on the channelled inside…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES


The plants contain thick milky latex which is secreted wherever a plant is damaged; it contains a glycoside that is extremely bitter (hence the common name). Xysmalobium undulatum  blooms from September to February and is common throughout the grasslands of the highveld. The fruit is an inflated follicle which is usually solitary as a result of abortion after fertilization; it is spindle-shaped, 50–70 mm long, contains 5–7 lateral wings and is hairless. The fruit contains many brown seeds.

The seeds contain a tuft of hairs called a coma. It forms a parachute-like structure at the tip of the seed and is instrumental in the wind-dispersal syndrome exhibited by these plants.

Medicinal Uses;
Xysmalobium undulatum  is widely used in remedies for many ailments. The Manyika tribe uses it as a remedy against syphilis and to aid conception. Powdered root is a Dutch remedy for haemorrhoids. Concoctions of the roots have been used to treat dropsy, dysentery and even snakebite. The milky latex is rubbed on animal skins before they are set out to dry to prevent dogs from tearing them. Crushed leaves are also rubbed on the legs to repel dogs.

The rootstock is mixed with the pounded root of Xysmalobium undulatum to make Uzara medicine, which is used for diarrhoea, dysentery and to soothe after-birth cramps. It is also used as a tonic for the cardiovascular system. All parts are extremely bitter and are used in various decoctions and infusions as an emetic, diuretic and purgative. Zulu people use the roots for indigestion, malaria and other fevers (including typhoid fever). Xhosas use infusions of the root for colic and abdominal troubles and sniff the dried pounded roots to relieve headaches.

Browsed plants are frequently encountered in the wild. However, experiments have shown the plants to be poisonous to sheep and guinea-pigs, which died within one to two days after consuming the plants.

The native inhabitants of South Africa have long used the root of the xysmalobium undulatum plant to treat digestive complaints.   In the early 1900s it was first introduced as an antidiarrheal herband in Europe and now it is also commonly recommended for digestive cramps and irritable bowel syndrome today because of its spasmolytic effect.

The dried root of 2-3 year old plants is used internally for acute diarrhea by inhibiting the intestinal peristalsis..  With a rational treatment, xysmalobium undulatum stops diarrhea, pains and vomiting.  It is also used for afterbirth cramps, dysentery, stomach cramps, colic, edema, headaches, indigestion, and dysmenorrhea. Externally, xysmalobium undulatum root can be used in a poultice for treating sores and wounds.  The powdered root is snuffed by the Zulus for a sedative effect.

Disclaimer: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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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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