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Common Name: Violet Tree
Destructive harvesting of the tree's roots for traditional medicine.
Photograph by: Marco Schmidt
Securidaca longipedunculata is a Tree up to 6.00 metres tall.
It is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of materials..
S. Africa - North-West and Limpopo provinces of South Africa and Mozambique.
Woodland and arid savannah soils[
Grown outdoors in mild temperate areas[
]. Needs greenhouse protection[
The roots of this species are widely used by local peoples as a medicine to cure a wide range of ailments[
]. Consequently the tree has become much rarer in the wild and is considered to be under threat in its native range and has therefore been given protected status[
The flowers are extremely attractive to birds, butterflies and insects[
The violet tree is the most popular of all the traditional medicinal plants in South Africa and is used for almost every conceivable ailment[
]. The roots are extremely poisonous, smell like wintergreen oil and contain methyl salicylate which may partly indicate why they have a wide diversity of uses, such as arrow poison in some parts of Africa including West Africa[
The roots and bark are taken orally either powdered or as infusions for treating chest complaints, headache, inflammation, abortion, ritual suicide, tuberculosis, infertility problems, venereal diseases and for constipation[
]. Toothache can also be relieved by chewing the roots[
]. Mixed roots of the violet tree and dwarf custard apple are used to treat gonorrhea. Powdered roots or wood scrapings are used to treat headache by rubbing them on the forehead, while infusions from the roots are used to wash tropical ulcer[
]s. In Limpopo, the vhaVenda people use roots for mental disorders and as protection against children's illness during breastfeeding[
]. It is also believed that many African people use the powdered violet tree roots as a sexual boost for men[
]. The vhaVenda people mix the powdered root with mageu (maize or sorghum beverage) and it is given to a man to drink if he is sexually weak. In Zimbabwe, the roots are used to treat people who are believed to be possessed by evil spirits, for snakebite as well as for coughs when pounded with water and salt[
The plant has 100 medicinal uses[
The bark is used to make soap[
A fibre obtained from the plant is used for fishing nets, baskets and strong threads that are used to sew bark cloth[
Seed - the violet tree is difficult to cultivate from seed, although some writers recommend that the seeds should be soaked thoroughly and then be planted in a sandy soil where the plants will remain, as they do not like to be disturbed[
]. This cannot be done in a temperate zone - here it is better to sow the seed in a sandy medium in individual pots. Make sure you pot them up whilst young into larger pots, making sure not to disturb the rootball. Plant them out in early summer into their permanent positions.
This tree can also be propagated by taking cuttings of the root shoots, as it does not grow well when transplanted.