Kirkia acuminata Oliv.: a review of its ethnobotany and pharmacology

  • Alfred Maroyi
Keywords: Africa, ethnobotanical, Kirkia acuminata, livelihood needs, traditional medicine


Background: Local communities in sub-Saharan Africa have a long history of medicinal plant usage. Like in other parts of the developing world, rural and urban communities are still dependent on herbal medicines for primary health care, and the use of herbal medicines is still an integral part of their daily life and socio-cultural life style. The objective of this paper is to summarise information on the ethnobotany and pharmacology of Kirkia acuminata Oliv. throughout its distributional range.

Materials and Methods: The information documented in this article is derived from books, theses, scientific journals and reports obtained from library collections, Scopus, Pubmed, MEDLINE, ISI Web of Science, Google Scholar and Science Direct.

Results: Kirkia acuminata is the most known and widely distributed Kirkia species in the genus and is one of the most popular and promising plant resources due to its several beneficial uses. Kirkia acuminata is used to treat abdominal pains, backache, cholera, constipation, cough, diarrhea, dysentery, snake bites, toothache and wounds. Other applications include its use as charcoal; hedge, ornamental or shade; stock feed, timber and source of water during drought periods. Preliminary phytochemical assessment of roots and stem bark of K. acuminata showed presence of lignans, neo-lignans, nor-carotinoids and other compounds. The extracts of K. acuminata exhibited antibacterial and antimycobacterial activities. These phytochemical compounds may be responsible for the medicinal uses and biological activities demonstrated by K. acuminata.

Conclusion: Detailed research is required aimed at exploring mode of action of bioactive compounds of Kirkia acuminata that are responsible for the documented pharmacological effects. Kirkia acuminata is an important plant species that has potential to contribute to the primary health care and livelihood improvement of local communities in the geographical areas where it is indigenous and found in abundance.

Keywords: Africa, ethnobotanical, Kirkia acuminata, livelihood needs, traditional medicine


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eISSN: 0189-6016