Xylopia

Botanical Name               : Xylopia aethiopica, (Dunal) A. Rich

Family                               : Annonaceae

Commercial name           : Ethiopian/Guinea pepper, Spice tree, Negro pepper

Local Names                     : Ethiopian – Konde- berbere, Ghana – Hwentia, Sierra Leone – Hewe, Ivory Coast – Fonde, Togo – Akatapure, Nigeria – Sesedu, Kimba

Botanical Background

Xylopia aethiopica (Dunal) is a slim, tall tree of about 60–70 cm in diameter that can reach up to 15– 30 m tall, with a straight stem and a slightly stripped or smooth bark. The fruits are rather small and look like twisted bean-pods.  When dry, the fruit turn dark brown, cylindrical, 2.5 to 5 cm long and 4 to 6 mm thick. Each pod contains 5 to 8 kidney-shaped seeds of approximately 5 mm in length. The hull is aromatic, but not the seeds.

Traditional and Modern Medicinal Uses

The fruits of Xylopia aethiopica tree are the parts most commonly used for commercial applications. Medicinally, the fruits are used as a cough-medicine, a calmative, purgative and repulsive to pain.  In Liberia, the spice is smoked and inhaled for respiratory ailments. The fruit is often incorporated in preparations for enema and external uses, calling on its repulsive properties for pains in the ribs, chest and generally for any painful area, lumbago (low back and waist pains), neuralgia (pains in the nerves) and in the treatment of boils and skin eruptions.  The fruit decoction is useful in the treatment of bronchitis and dysenteric conditions, and as a medicine for bulimia (eating disorder). The seeds of the plant are mixed with other spices, rubbed on the body as a cosmetic and as perfume…

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