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Medicinal, culinary and unusual botanicals from Australia and around the world

Tabernaemontana pandacaqui – Banana Bush (plant)

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Banana Bush is a member of the Apocynaceae family (synonym Ervatamia angustisepala, Ervatmia pandacaqui)). Tabernaemontana pandacaqui  is native to northern coastal NSW and coastal southern QLD. A shrub or small tree to 4 metres, white fragrant windmill flowers occur in groups and are followed by pairs of orange fruit containing a mass of crimson flesh surrounding numerous fissured seeds.

Tabernaemontana pandacaqui contains a number of indole alkaloids in all parts of the plant (all plant parts give a strong positive test for alkaloids). Coronaridine has been isolated from the bark. The leaves and fruit contain triterpenes. The fruit is probably proteolytic (breaks down proteins) by analogy with T. orientalis. The root bark has been used for tropical fever and Aboriginals from Queensland rubbed the fruit on sores to assist healing.

Pharmalogical studies have demonstrated that an alcoholic extract of the root, stem, leaves and flowers has potent analgesic effects (Taesotikul et. al. 1989). The roots have been shown to contain hydroxyvoacangine (which occurs in Voacanga sp.) and alkaloids closely related to ibogaine (Ratsch 1998).

Care and Cultivation of Tabernaemontana pandacaqui

Tabernaemontana pandacaqui  likes a part shade position with rich soil and good drainage. Really tolerant of dry conditions once established, they will just lose leaves and become dormant. Give regular applications of fertiliser over summer. Beautiful scented windmill flowers typical of Apocyanaceae in spring/summer.

1 plant


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