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Pausinystalia johimbe - (K.Schum.) Pierre

Common Name Yohimbe
Family Rubiaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The bark contains alkaloids that have medical applications at low doses but are toxic at larger doses[254 ]. Poisonous doses of the bark are reported to paralyze respiration and the drug can cause severe hypotension, abdominal distress and weakness[418 ]. The bark can also be used as a fish poison[418 ]
Habitats A middle-storey tree of forests[254 , 303 ]. Occurs mainly in closed canopy forest, most commonly in coastal forest, although not widespread throughout its range[418 ].
Range West tropical Africa - Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo..
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (2 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (5 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Pausinystalia johimbe Yohimbe

Pausinystalia johimbe Yohimbe
Destino Vemba wikimedia.org


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Pausinystalia johimbe or commonly known as Yohimbe is native to western and central Africa. It is evergreen and grows up to 30m tall with a straight bole that can be up to 60cm in diameter. The leaves are oval-shaped. The bark is gray to reddish-brown. Yohimbe is used medicinally as stimulant, anti-diuretic, hypotensive, and bitter herb. It has aphrodisiac effects and is hallucinogenic. In particular, it is used in the treatment of impotence, frigidity, and angina. The bark is also a source of tannins. The wood is used as firewood and construction material. There is no known edible use of this plant.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Pausinystalia johimbe is an evergreen Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a medium rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: mildly acid, neutral and basic (mildly alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Corynanthe johimbe K.Schum. Pausinystalia trillesii Beille Pausinystalia zenkeri W.Brandt

Plant Habitats

Edible Uses

None known

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Anaesthetic  Aphrodisiac  Cardiac  Hallucinogenic  Hypotensive  Stimulant  Vasodilator

The bark contains up to 6% of a mixture of indole alkaloids, the principle one being yohimbine (which is also known as aphrodine), plus pigments and tannins[254 , 418 ]. The alkaloids have a cerebral stimulant action at low doses, but are highly toxic in large doses[254 ]. Yohimbine has been shown to block the release of adrenalin and, in the correct dose, act as a sexual stimulant[238 ]. It is the source of the only clinically-proven cure for impotence and has long been used as a traditional stimulant in Africa[418 ]. Yohimbe is a bitter, warming, anti-diuretic, hypotensive and vasodilating herb with reputedly aphrodisiac effects[238 ]. It has a stimulant effect upon the heart, increasing heart rate and blood pressure; has a locally anaesthetic action similar to that of cocaine but without being mydriatic; is a mild stimulant that can help to prevent drowsiness; and is hallucinogenic. The vasodilating action of yohimbe is particularly strong on the sex organs, hence its aphrodisiac action[238 , 303 ]. The bark is taken internally, either as a powder or as a decoction. It is used particularly in the treatment of impotence, frigidity and angina[238 , 418 ]. It is also used as a performance enhancer for athletes, and as a remedy to increase the clarity of the voices of singers during long festivals[303 , 418 ]. The bark can be harvested at any time of the year[254 ]. The use of this herb is subject to legal restrictions in some countries[238 , 254 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Fuel  Tannin  Wood

Other Uses The bark is a source of tannins[418 ]. The inner bark is utilized as straps for panniers[303 ]. The tree produces very little sap-wood, the major fraction being an ocreous-yellow heart-wood[332 ]. The wood is flexible, so is widely used as a snare-trap mechanism, whilst the young poles are used for construction purposes in traditional buildings[303 ]. The wood is used as fuel[303 , 418 ].

Special Uses

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the humid, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 500 metres[418 ]. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature ranges between 22 - 28°c, but can succeed at 18 - 35°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range of 2,000 - 4,000mm, but tolerates from 1,500 - 5,000mm[418 ]. Succeeds in full sun and in partial shade[418 ]. Grows best in a fertile, moist but well-drained, medium to heavy soil with high humidity[238 , 418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, but can tolerate 5 - 7.5[418 ]. A fast growing tree but the bole never reaches a great diameter[303 ]. The species coppices well, producing strong, highly phototrophic shoots[303 ]. The bark is harvested as the source of the alkaloid yohimbine. The main stem gives the best material but is not rich in alkaloids until the tree is 15 - 20 years of age, by which time it can contain 2 - 15% yohimbine. Bark exploitation is a seasonal activity as the yohimbine levels are highest during the rainy season[303 ]. Although the trees callus well after a small amount of bark removal, removal of large quantities of bark can lead to an attack by a small stem borer which penetrates the unprotected stem, killing the tree[303 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed -

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Yohimbe, johimbe, yohimbe cortex, yohimbe tree, yohimbebaum, yohimbeh, yohimbehe cortex, yohimbeherinde, yohimbi, yohimbé.

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Pausinystalia macrocerasFalse johimbeTree18.0 10-12 SMHSM052

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


Expert comment


(K.Schum.) Pierre

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

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