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Brucea antidysenterica - J.F.Mill.

Common Name Waginos
Family Simaroubaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The fruit is bitter and reportedly toxic to livestock, especially sheep[ 299 ]. Crystals of calcium oxalate are present in the bark, leaves and roots[ 299 ].
Habitats In the lower storeys of evergreen forest and often as secondary growth in deforested areas or at forest edges[ 308 ]. Montane forests, forest margins and secondary vegetation, most frequently at elevations of 1,750 - 2,500 metres[ 299 ].
Range Tropical Africa - Guinea and Nigeria east to Ethiopia and south to Angola, Malawi and Zambia.
Edibility Rating    (1 of 5)
Other Uses    (1 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (4 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Brucea antidysenterica Waginos
Brucea antidysenterica Waginos


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Found in tropical Africa, Brucea antidysentericais a monoecious shrub or small tree commonly used in traditional medicine as treatment for dysentry. It grows up to around 7 m high. The bark is grey, the leaves are alternate, and the flowers are green and very small. The bitter fruits reportedly have toxic effects on livestock especially sheep. The bark, fruit, and roots are also used as an anthelmintic and to relieve fever. It is also used against diarrhoea, ingestion, asthma, and stomach pain. Ointments can be made from the leaves and twigs along with ghee or butter to treat wounds and skin ailments. Roots are used for rabies and sores caused by sexually transmitted diseases. The bark is used as a bitter flavouring.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Brucea antidysenterica is an evergreen Tree growing to 7 m (23ft) by 7 m (23ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in full shade (deep woodland) semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Brucea abyssinica Spreng. Brucea ferruginea L'H?r. Brucea salutaris A.Chev.


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Inner bark
Edible Uses:

Edible portion: Bark - spice. The bark is used as a bitter flavouring.


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.

As its name suggests, the plant is of value in traditional medicine for the treatment of dysentery. Modern research has confirmed this action and also highlighted other potential uses of the plant. The leaves and stem bark contain quanninoids and canthin alkaloids that have potent anticancer properties, and these have attracted much research attention in recent decades[ 299 ]. Some trials have been inconclusive, whilst others have shown promising results, especially since the effects were facilitated in the absence of overt toxicity[ 299 ]. In addition to their antineoplastic activity, many compounds present in the plant are highly effective against the dysentery-causing amoeba, Entamoeba histolytica, and the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum[ 299 ]. Quassinoids from the plant have exhibited weak anti-tuberculosis activity in vitro, whilst their anti-HIV potential is marred by high cytotoxicity[ 299 ]. Quassinoids are characteristic of the Simaroubaceae; they give the bark of Brucea antidysenterica a distinctive bitter taste[ 299 ]. Canthin alkaloids, present in the root bark of Brucea antidysenterica, have anticancer and antimicrobial properties[ 299 ]. The bark, fruit and roots are widely used against dysentery, as an anthelmintic and to treat fever[ 299 ]. The bark, fruit, seeds, leaves and roots (sometimes boiled) are used as a remedy for diarrhoea, indigestion and stomach-ache[ 299 ]. The leaves and roots are cooked with meat, or infused with milk (for children) to relieve asthma[ 299 ]. Wounds and skin complaints, such as those caused by leprosy and scrofula, are treated with ointments made from the leaves and twigs mixed with ghee or butter, or from the ripe fruits mixed with honey[ 299 ]. Preparations of the roots are used on sores caused by sexually transmitted diseases, while the leaves and seeds are used to treat cancerous skin tumours[ 299 ]. The roots are used to treat rabies[ 299 ].


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Other Uses

Other uses rating: Low (1/5). Other Uses: The fruit contains about 22% oil[ 299 ]. No uses are mentioned[ K ]. A yellow dye in the fruit endocarp is non-soluble in water[ 299 ]. The wood is used as firewood and for roof construction[ 299 ].

Special Uses


Cultivation details

The plant grows at moderate elevations, usually to 2,500 metres but exceptionally to 3,700 metres in the moister tropics of Africa[ 299 ]. Vegetative growth, flowering and fruiting continue throughout the year, even in the dry season[ 299 ]. Brucea antidysenterica has been recorded as a host plant of the Mediterranean fruit fly, a major pest of the fruit industry[ 299 ].


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Seed - best sown in situ. Readily propagated from seed, an alternative method of propagation is transplanting wildlings[ 299 ]. Seed can be stored at room temperature for over a year[ 299 ].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Waginos or Brucea antidysentericais

Found In

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

Found In: Africa, Angola, Cameroon, Central Africa, Congo, East Africa, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, GuinŽe, Malawi, Nigeria, Sudan, West Africa, Zambia.

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.

None Known

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.

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