Voacanga africana is a small flowering plant in the dogbane family, Apocynaceae, that grows to 6 m in height. It is native to tropical Africa. The small tree has leaves that are up to 30 cm in length, and the tree produces yellow or white flowers, which after being successfully pollinated bear fruit with a green exocarp and yellow mesocarp surrounding the seeds. The fruit naturally splits in half when it is ripe.
The bark and seeds of the tree are used in Ghana as a poison, stimulant, aphrodisiac, and ceremonial psychedelic. These effects are due to the presence of a complex mixture of iboga alkaloids such as ibogaine, voacangine, voacamine, vobtusine, amataine, akuammidine, tabersonine, and coronaridine.
A number of these compounds have pharmaceutical uses. Of particular pharmaceutical interest is voacangine, which is a common precursor in the semi-synthesis of the anti-addiction medication ibogaine. Small amounts of ibogaine are found in Voacanga Africana root bark but not in sufficient quantity to have much medicinal effect.
- Voacanga africana in West African plants – A Photo Guide.
- Encyclopedia Ethnobotanica
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