African Common Poison BushRipe fruit of the Acokanthera oblongifoliaGreen fruit of the Common Poison-bush used for arrow poison

Family: Apocynaceae

Scientific Name: Acokanthera oblongifolia

Common names: Common African Poison-bush

SANTN: 639

Description: A shrub or small tree up to 3.5 m height, it can reach occasionally 6 m, it occurs all over eastern and central Africa, and also some scattered places in the west of Namibia.

Medical uses: This plant and ALL it's parts are extremely poisonous, it contain several cardiac glycosides of which Acovenoside A is the major compound, with minor constituents which include the well known hunting poison ingredient Ouabain.

PLEASE NOTE: Acovenoside A is highly toxic and can cause death even with minute doses. A infusion of the root bark are used to treat excessive and irregular menstruation.

Small doses of the plant are taken orally, and some applied topically for the treatment of toothache by traditional healers in Africa.

Other medical uses include the treatment of colds, anthrax and tapeworm.

Superstition uses: Non known.

Nutritive uses: I have heard that the ripe fruit may be eatable when cooked, but I strongly advise against any consuming of any part of this plant, it is extremely poisonous and must be treated with respect.

Other uses: Acokanthera sp. (A.oppositifolia, A.oblongifolia, A.schimperi) are all well known and used as arrow and spear poisons in Africa. The way in which the poison was extracted will not be made public for safety reasons.

Interesting Facts: It was used in a few cases of homicide.

Credits: Christian Fourie, Ranger and safari specialist for Southern Africa.