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

Voacanga africana (seed)

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Voacanga africana is a member of the Apocynaceae family from Africa (Tropical Africa – Senegal to Sudan and Kenya, south to Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique). A small tree growing to 6m tall and 2m spread. The flowers are typical of Apocynaceae and are scented.

All parts of the plant are rich in alkaloids, especially the bark: the root-bark contains 5 – 10%; the stem-bark 4 – 5%; the seeds 1.5% and the leaves 0.3 – 0.45%. Voacamine is the principle alkaloid present followed by voacangine, voacangarine, voacorine and vobtusine. Many other alkaloids have also been identified, as well as the presence of small amounts of tannins and flavonoids. The alkaloids are of particular interest to the pharmaceutical industry. They show a vast range of pharmacological activities including analgesic, antibacterial, anticonvulsant, cardiotonic, cytotoxic, diuretic, hypotensive, vasoconstrictor, central nervous system stimulant, and exerting a spasmolytic effect on the smooth muscle of the intestine. Several of the compounds are extracted from the plant for use in medical preparations. (From Useful Tropical Plants website).

There is an abundant white latex in the bark and other parts of the tree. It does not coagulate and has been used to adulterate better rubbers. Children use it to make balls to play with.

Care and Cultivation of Voacanga africana

We soak Voacanga africana seeds overnight in a seaweed solution before sowing, this helps to remove any dried flesh from the seed and enhances germination rates. Sow seeds just under the surface of a well drained seed raising mix. Place in a part shade position in a warm and humid environment for best results in spring/summer. Keep moist until germination which occurs 2-6 weeks after sowing.

10 seeds per packet (or choose other options, approx. 100 seeds in 3g)


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