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Securidaca longipedunculata - Fresen.

Common Name Violet Tree
Family Polygalaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The tree, but especially the roots, are toxic if taken in excess[418 ]. A saponin found in the roots can cause severe damage to bone marrow and haemolysis when in contact with blood[303 ]. The solid portion of the root is said to be the most lethal[303 ]. The root bark also contains 0.42% methyl salicylate. Severe poisoning can result from ingestion of 10 - 30ml of methyl salicylate[303 ]. In Zambia the crushed and powdered roots are used as an intravaginal or intrarectal poison, and in Gambia as a fish poison[303 ]. Bark, roots and seeds are used in arrow poison, and root can be used as a snake repellent[303 ].
Habitats Woodland and arid savannah soils[295 ]. Occurs in a broad range of vegetation, from semi-arid scrub to dense forest, including many woodland and bush habitats and gallery forests at elevations up to 1,600 metres[308 , 418 ].
Range Africa - widespread from Senegal to Eritrea and Ethiopia, south to S. Africa, avoiding the moistest regions.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Securidaca longipedunculata Violet Tree

Securidaca longipedunculata Violet Tree


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Small to medium-sized tree, measuring between 6 and 12 meters tall. The species suffers from over-harvesting for use in local medicines. Periodic droughts and bush fires are also a hazard for the propagation of this tree. The plant is commonly gathered from the wild for medicinal use and also as a food and source of materials.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of lolypop
Securidaca longipedunculata is a deciduous Tree growing to 6 m (19ft 8in).
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 10. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs).
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. 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


Plant Habitats

 Cultivated Beds;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves
Edible Uses:

Young leaves - cooked[418 ]. Eaten as a vegetable or in sauces[303 , 418 ].

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.
Antiinflammatory  Antitussive  Laxative  Odontalgic

The plant has 100 medicinal uses[214]. The violet tree is the most popular of all the traditional medicinal plants in South Africa, where it is used for almost every conceivable ailment[295 ]. It is also popularly used throughout its range. The roots are extremely poisonous, smell like wintergreen oil and contain methyl salicylate which may partly indicate why they have a wide diversity of uses, such as arrow poison in some parts of Africa including West Africa[295 ]. The plant is said to have 100 medicinal uses[214 ]. The roots and bark are taken orally either powdered or as infusions for treating chest complaints, headache, inflammation, abortion, ritual suicide, tuberculosis, infertility problems, venereal diseases and for constipation[295 ]. Toothache can also be relieved by chewing the roots[295 ]. Mixed roots of the violet tree and dwarf custard apple are used to treat gonorrhoea. Powdered roots or wood scrapings are used to treat headache by rubbing them on the forehead, while infusions from the roots are used to wash tropical ulcer[295 ]s. In Limpopo, the vhaVenda people use roots for mental disorders and as protection against children's illness during breastfeeding[295 ]. It is also believed that many African people use the powdered violet tree roots as a sexual boost for men[295 ]. The vhaVenda people mix the powdered root with mageu (maize or sorghum beverage) and it is given to a man to drink if he is sexually weak. In Zimbabwe, the roots are used to treat people who are believed to be possessed by evil spirits, for snakebite as well as for coughs when pounded with water and salt[295 ].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Basketry  Charcoal  Cosmetic  Fibre  Fuel  Hedge  Soap  String  Wood

Agroforestry Uses: An ornamental plant, it can be grown as a hedge[774 ]. Other Uses: The bark of the roots, or the pounded seeds, can be used as a soap for washing and bleaching items[295 , 774 ]. A fibre obtained from the inner bark can be used like cotton to weave a coarse cloth[308 ]. The fibre obtained from young branches is particularly strong and durable[303 , 774 ]. The fibre is said to be of a similar quality to flax (Linum usitatissimum)[46 ]. It is also used for fishing nets, baskets and strong threads that are used to sew bark cloth[295 ]. The seeds are rich in oil[774 ]. It is used cosmetically or as a furniture stain[303 ]. The roots at 350 ppm are 100% effective as a molluscicide[303 ].. The wood is light yellow with markedly dark growth rings. It is soft, spongy, but durable and resists the attacks of termites. It is liable to split upon drying. Of little value, it is used for poles, hut construction, brooms etc[303 , 774 ]. The wood makes a good fuel and is used to make charcoal[303 , 418 , 774 ]. Ornamental.

Special Uses

Attracts Wildlife  Hedge

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

A plant of the subtropics and tropics, where it is found in a wide range of climates including hot and arid summer rainfall, and equatorial humid; at elevations up to 1,800 metres[303 ]. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 20 - 30°c, but can tolerate 16 - 36°c[418 ]. The plant can survive temperatures down to about 1°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 600 - 1,000mm, but tolerates 500 - 1,300mm[418 ]. Requires a sunny position[418 ]. Grows best in a light, well-drained soil, succeeding even if the fertility is low[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5 - 7, tolerating 4.5 - 7.5[418 ]. The plant can survive bush fires[418 ]. The flowers are extremely attractive to birds, butterflies and insects[295 ].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plant Propagation

Seed - the violet tree is difficult to cultivate from seed, although some writers recommend that the seeds should be soaked thoroughly and then be planted in a sandy soil where the plants will remain, as they do not like to be disturbed[295 ]. Seedlings quickly develop a deep taproot, which is fragile and easily broken. The plant often dies or does very poorly after transplanting due to damage to this taproot. Seeds should either be sown in deep, individual containers and planted out when still small, or they should be sown in situ and given appropriate care. This tree can also be propagated by taking cuttings of the root shoots, as it does not grow well when transplanted.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

violet tree, Afrikaans: krinkhout, Bambara: satene, Tswana: mmaba, Venda: mpesu.

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Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Uganda; Kenya; Tanzania, United Republic of; Mozambique; Nigeria; South Sudan; Sudan

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

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.


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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.

Readers comment

sayi freddie   Wed Apr 25 2007

distribution found mainly in western part of zambia in Brachystegia bakeriana woodland.

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Subject : Securidaca longipedunculata  
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