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Thaumatococcus daniellii - (Benn.) Benth. ex B.D.Jacks.

Common Name Sweet Prayer Plant, Katemfe
Family Marantaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Tropical lowland rainforest[310 ]. Forest clearings[418 ].
Range Western and central Tropical Africa - Sierra Leone to Zaire.
Edibility Rating    (4 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (0 of 5)
Care (info)
Tender Moist Soil Full shade Semi-shade Full sun
Thaumatococcus daniellii Sweet Prayer Plant, Katemfe
Thaumatococcus daniellii Sweet Prayer Plant, Katemfe


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Thaumatococcus daniellii, otherwise known as Sweet Prayer Plant, is native to western part of Africa, from Sierra Leone to Zaire. It is a large flowering herb with rhizomatous rootstock, growing about 4 m in height. It is a natural source of thaumatin, a low-calorie sweetener and flavor modifier protein. The leaves are ovateelliptic, large, and papery. The flowers are purple which occur singly or in branched spikes. The fruits are covered in a fleshy red aril, trigonal in shape and dark red/brown when fully ripe. Each fruit contains three black, hard seeds which can be eaten raw or cooked. It can also be used as sweetener. The leaves, on the other hand, are used for wrapping foods and for boiling foods. Petiole is used as weaving materials for mats and as tools and building materials. Leaves area also used for roofing. T. daniellii is also used in traditional medicine as a laxative (fruits), as an emetic and for pulmonary conditions (seeds), as antidote against venoms, stings, and bites (leaf sap), and as sedative and for insanity treatment (leaf and root sap).

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of flower
Thaumatococcus daniellii is an evergreen Perennial growing to 2 m (6ft) by 2 m (6ft) at a fast rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10.
Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid 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


Donax daniellii (Benn.) Roberty Monostiche daniellii (Benn.) Horan. Phrynium daniellii Benn.


Edible Uses

Edible Parts: Leaves  Seed
Edible Uses:

Seed - raw or cooked. A very sweet flavour[301 ]. When the raw seed is chewed, it affects the taste buds so that, for about an hour thereafter, any sour foods that are eaten or drunk seem to have a sweet flavour[301 ]. The seeds are also used for sweetening bread, fruits, tea etc[301 ]. The aril of the seed contains a sweet-tasting protein (thaumatin) that can be used as a substitute for sugar, also in low caloric diets and drinks[310 ]. Because of the persistent sweet aftertaste, it also 'sweetens' normally bitter or sour substances[310 ]. Thaumatin is the sweetest of known natural and synthetic substances, 2,000 - 3,000 times sweeter than sucrose[310 ]. The leaves are used for wrapping food[418 ]. The report does not make it clear if the leaves are used to impart a flavour when cooking, or are merely used to wrap the food when it is stored[K ].


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.

None known


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Other Uses

Other Uses: The leaves are used as food wrappers, as a packing material and for roofing[301 , 310 ].

Special Uses


Cultivation details

A plant of the moist, lowland tropics. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 21 - 30°c, but can tolerate 15 - 35°c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 1,700 - 2,300mm, but tolerates 1,300 - 2,700mm[418 ]. Requires a shady position[310 ]. Plants can succeed in full sun as well as it shade[418 ]. Prefers a well-drained, loamy to clayey soil[418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 4.5 - 5, tolerating 4.3 - 7[418 ]. First flowering starts 3 months after planting, but flowering is more abundant after about 1 year[310 ]. Good fruits develop only in plants that are 2 years old or older[310 ]. Young fruits mature in 13 weeks[310 ].


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The PFAF Bookshop

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Seed - Rhizome cuttings.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Abieba, Etere, Katamfe, Katemfe, Lokongo, Ngongo, Nzilizili, Sweet prayer, ewe eran, ewe moi-moi, katamfe, miraculous fruit.

Found In

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

Africa*, Asia, Australia, Benin, Cameroon, Central Africa, Congo DR, Côte d'Ivoire, Guinea, Guinée, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, SE Asia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, West Africa,

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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Expert comment


(Benn.) Benth. ex B.D.Jacks.

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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