In Africa, rural people depend heavily, if not exclusively, on medicinal plants and indigenous healthcare knowledge to meet their medical needs. Over 80000 flowering plant species are used medicinally worldwide. Amongst them are the underutilized Ziziphus species in the Rhamnaceae family. In terms of abundance and economic value, Z. jujuba and Z. mauritiana are currently the most important, especially in China and India where they are cultivated and exploited for medicinal use and their edible fruits. We examined a related common species widely distributed in Africa, Z. mucronata, whose economic value has not, as yet, been explored. Local people in various African countries use its different parts to cure a large number of diseases, many of which are similar to those treated with Z. jujuba and Z. mauritiana. Several studies have shown that Z. mucronata has cyclopeptide alkaloids, i.e., mucronines F, G and H, with antibacterial properties. Conservation strategies to sustain and maximize the benefits of Z. mucronata to people are proposed.
Keywords: Africa; Ziziphus mucronata; medicinal plant; traditional remedy; underutilization.
© Beijing Forestry University and Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2011.