Silene undulata

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Silene undulata
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Core eudicots
Order: Caryophyllales
Family: Caryophyllaceae
Genus: Silene
Species: S. undulata
Binomial name
Silene undulata
  • Silene capensis Otth
  • Melandrium undulatum (Ait.) Rohrb.
Silene undulata in a small pot

Silene undulata (Xhosa: undlela zimhlophe — “white ways/paths”, also known as Silene Capensis, and African Dream Root) is a plant native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa.[1][2]


In cultivation, S. undulata is an easily grown, but moisture hungry herb. It is tolerant of extreme heat (>40 °C) and moderate cold (-5 °C). A moisture retentive seedbed is essential. The fragrant flowers open at night and close in the day. It is a biennial to short lived perennial and the root can be harvested after the second year.


S. undulata is regarded by the Xhosa people as a sacred plant. Its root is traditionally used to induce vivid (and according to the Xhosa, prophetic) lucid dreams during the initiation process of shamans, classifying it a naturally occurring oneirogen similar to the more well-known dream herb Calea zacatechichi.[1]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ a b J. F. Sobiecki: A review of plants used in divination in southern Africa and their psychoactive effects. (PDF, 197kB) in Southern African Humanities, Vol. 20, Pages 333–351, December 2008
  2. ^ H. Wild: Caryophyllaceae in Flora Zambesiaca, Vol. 1, Pt 2, 1961: Silene undulata - Online