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Starr 030628-0122 Rauvolfia sandwicensis.jpg
Rauvolfia sandwicensis
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Rauvolfioideae
Tribe: Vinceae
Genus: Rauvolfia
Type species
Rauvolfia tetraphylla L., 1753[2]

About 85 species known.

  • Cyrtosiphonia Miq.
  • Dissolena Lour.
  • Heurckia Müll.Arg.
  • Ophioxylon L.
  • Podochrosia Baill.

Rauvolfia (also spelled Rauwolfia) is a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae. The genus is named to honor Leonhard Rauwolf. The approximately 85 species in the genus can mainly be found in tropical regions. Rauvolfia caffra is the South African quinine tree.

Chemical constituents[edit]

Rauvolfia serpentina, commonly known as or Indian Snakeroot or Sarpagandha, contains a number of bioactive chemicals, including ajmaline, aricine, corynanthine, deserpidine lankanescine rauwolscine, rescinnamine, reserpine, reserpiline, isoreserpine, isoreserpiline, serpentinine, and yohimbine.[citation needed]

Medicinal uses[edit]

Reserpine is an alkaloid first isolated from R. serpentina and was widely used as an antihypertensive drug.[citation needed] It had drastic psychological side effects and has been replaced as a first-line antihypertensive drug by other compounds that lack such adverse effects, although combination drugs that include it are still available in some countries as second-line antihypertensive drugs.[citation needed]

Other plants of this genus are also used medicinally, both in conventional western medicine and in Ayurveda, Unani, and folk medicine.[citation needed] Alkaloids in the plants reduce blood pressure, depress activity of the central nervous system and act as hypnotics.[citation needed]


Rauvolfia serpentina is declining in the wild due to collection for its medicinal uses.[4] Consequently, it is listed in CITES Appendix II.[5] Rauvolfia vomitoria is a highly invasive species in Hawaiʻi, and is capable of establishing dense monotypic stands.


Women who are pregnant, may be pregnant, or plan pregnancy in the near future should not ingest Rauvolfia plants or preparations made from them.[citation needed] They may also be harmful for people with any chronic disease of the gastrointestinal tract, such as stomach or duodenal ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (reflux esophagitis), ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticulosis.[citation needed] No "safe" dosage has been established.

Selected species[edit]


  1. ^ "Rauvolfia L.". Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2003-03-14. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  2. ^ "Rauvolfia L.". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  3. ^ "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved May 18, 2014. 
  4. ^ "India’s wild medicinal plants threatened by over-exploitation". International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2008-11-24. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  5. ^ "Appendices I, II and III". Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 
  6. ^ Little Jr., Elbert L.; Roger G. Skolmen (1989). Hao (PDF). United States Forest Service. 
  7. ^ "Subordinate Taxa of Rauvolfia L.". TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2009-11-11. 

External links[edit]