Strychnos innocua

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Local names:
Amharic (inguachia,merenz), Bemba (mulungikome,mulungi), English (monkey orange,dull-leaved strychnos,wild orange,dull-leaved mukwakwa), Lozi (muzimbikolo), Lunda (mukunkampombo), Nyanja (kabulukulu,kambeli,kamwelalumba,mteme,mtulutulu), Swahili (mkwakwa

Strychnos innocua is a small, straight-stemmed tree 3-14 m in high, with a smooth, green or yellowish-white, powdery bark; branchlets stout and smooth.

Leaves simple, alternate, leathery, subsessile or shortly petiolate, obovate, elliptic or oblong-elliptic, 4-15 x 2-9 cm, coriaceous; rounded-emarginate or subacute at the apex; widely to very narrowly cuneate or rarely rounded at the base; glabrous to pubescent beneath; venation finely reticulate on both surfaces with 3-7 nerves arising from the leaf base that are prominent beneath; petiole 2-6 mm long.

Flowers greenish-white or yellowish, up to 8 mm long, produced in axillary cymes; stalks short, 2-5 mm long; calyx lobes short and broad.

Fruits globose, 6-10 cm in diameter, with a hard rind, glabrous, bluish-green when young, yellowish or orange when ripe, with a thick woody shell, containing many seeds embedded in a yellowish pulp. Seeds yellowish-white, tetrahedral, stony hard, 1.5-1.8 cm in diameter.

‘Strychnos’, meaning ‘deadly’, is an ancient Greek name for a certain poisonous member of the Solanaceae family. Linnaeus, who founded the genus Strychnos on the Indian species S. nux-vomica, which yields strychnine, possibly associated the deadly qualities of both groups when he named the genus. The specific epithet means harmless (lacking poisonous properties, spines etc).


Occurs in savannah forests all over tropical Africa in open woodland and rocky hills.

Native range
Angola, Ethiopia, Guinea, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mozambique, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

Tree management

Protection of the natural habitat from forest fires helps in promoting natural regeneration. Seedlings should be planted where there has been partial clearing of herbaceous vegetation, and management practices carried out include pruning, lopping and pollarding.

There are about 1800 seeds/kg. Seed can be stored for 2 months with no loss in viability.

Occurs in savannah forests all over tropical Africa in open woodland and rocky hills.

S. innocua regenerates naturally from seeds, coppice and root suckers. Germination of seed is poor owing to its hard coat, and soaking in water for 12 hours improves germination. Coppice shoots are produced on felling of trees, while root suckers are produced after roots are wounded.

Poison:  A mixture of ground roots and oil is rubbed on the skin as a fly repellent.

  The sweet-sour fruit pulp is edible.

Leaves are eaten by livestock.

Provides excellent firewood that burns even when wet.

Timber:  The cream or pale yellow hardwood is inclined to split; it is used for tool handles and other small articles.

Medicine:  A root decoction is taken as a remedy for gonorrhoea; fresh roots are used to treat snakebite. The bark and twigs are pounded, soaked in cold water and the infusion drunk to facilitate birth. The fruit pulp is used as a remedy for dysentery and as eardrops. Seeds have emetic properties.