• Alfred Maroyi Department of Botany, Medicinal Plants and Economic Development Research Centre, University of Fort Hare, Private Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa.




Ekebergia capensis, Meliaceae, Traditional medicine, Tropical Africa


Ekebergia capensis is an integral part of indigenous pharmacopeia in tropical Africa. The present study critically reviewed the ethnomedicinal uses, phytochemistry, and pharmacological properties of E. capensis. The keywords including E. capensis, its synonyms, English common names, ethnomedicinal uses, and phytochemistry and pharmacological properties of the species were searched using electronic databases such as ISI web of knowledge, ProQuest, science direct, OATD, Scopus, Open-thesis, PubMed, and Google Scholar. Pre-electronic literature of conference papers, scientific articles, books, book chapters, dissertations, and theses was carried out at the University Library. Literature studies revealed that E. capensis is mainly used as herbal medicine against fever and malaria, gastrointestinal problems, pain, parasitic worms, reproductive problems in women, respiratory problems, and skin diseases. Phytochemical compounds identified from the species include alkaloids, anthraquinones, coumarins, flavonoids, glycoflavonoids, glycosides, iridoids, limonoids, polyphenols, phytosteroids, pregnane, saponins, tannins, and withanolides. Pharmacological studies revealed that E. capensis extracts and compounds have acetylcholinesterase-inhibitory, analgesic and anti-inflammatory, anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antigonococcal, antimycobacterial, antimycoplasmal, antihypertensive, antioxidant, antimalarial and antiplasmodial, antischistosomal, antitrypanosomal, and antiviral and cytotoxicity activities. Although pharmacological evaluations carried out so far have confirmed the potency of E. capensis crude extracts and compounds, detailed studies are required aimed at establishing the efficacy, clinical relevance, safety, and mechanisms of action of the plant extracts and compounds.

Author Biography

Alfred Maroyi, Department of Botany, Medicinal Plants and Economic Development Research Centre, University of Fort Hare, Private Bag X1314, Alice 5700, South Africa.

Department of Botany, Professor


Van Wyk BE, Van Oudtshoorn B, Gericke N. Medicinal Plants of South Africa. Pretoria: Briza Publications; 2013.

George J, Laing MD, Drewes SE. Phytochemical research in South Africa. S Afr J Sci 2001;97:93-105.

Williams VL, Balkwill K, Witkowski ET. A lexicon of plants traded in the Witwatersrand umuthi shops, South Africa. Bothalia 2001;31:71-98.

Cunningham AB. African Medicinal Plants: Setting Priorities at the Interface between Conservation and Primary Health Care. Paris: People and Plants Working Paper 1, UNESCO; 1993.

Neuwinger HD. Plants used for poison fishing in tropical Africa. Toxicon 2004;44:417-30.

Pennington TD, Edwards KS. Meliaceae. In: Berry PE, Yatskievych K, Holst BK, editors. Flora of the Venezuelan Guayana

Liliaceae-Myrsinaceae. St. Louis: Missouri Botanical Garden; 2001. p. 528-49.

Muellner AN, Samuel R, Chase MW, Coleman A. An evaluation of tribes and generic relationships in Melioideae (Meliaceae) based on nuclear ITS ribosomal DNA. Taxon 2008;57:98-108.

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), Meliaceae: 2018 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (2018). Available from: http://www.iucnredlist.org/search. [Last accessed on 2018 Jan 12].

Louppe D, Oteng-Amoako AA, Brink M. Plant resources of tropical Africa 7: Timbers 1. Leiden: PROTA Foundation, Backhuys Publishers; 2008.

Atawodi SE, Atawodi JC. Azadirachta indica (neem): A plant of multiple biological and pharmacological activities. Phytochem Rev 2009;8:601-20.

Palmer E, Pitman P. Trees for Southern Africa Covering All Known Indigenous Species in Republic of South Africa, South West Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Cape Town: A.A. Balkema; 1972.

Schmidt E, Lotter M, McCleland W. Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Johannesburg: Jacana Media; 2002.

Pennington TD, Styles BT. A generic monograph of the Meliaceae. Blumea 1975;22:419-540.

Hyde M, Wursten B, Ballings P, Palgrave MC. Flora of Zimbabwe: Species Information: Ekebergia capensis Sparrm. (2018). Available from: https:// www.zimbabweflora.co.zw/speciesdata/species.php?species_ id=133540. [Last accessed on 2018 Apr 15].

Palgrave MC. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers; 2002.

Mairura FS. Ekebergia capensis Sparrm. In: Louppe D, Oteng- Amoako AA, Brink M, editors. Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 7: Timbers 1. Leiden: PROTA Foundation, Backhuys Publishers; 2008. p. 227-31.

Arnold HJ, Gulumian M. Pharmacopoeia of traditional medicine in Venda. J Ethnopharmacol 1984;12:35-74.

Bryant AT. Zulu Medicine and Medicine-Men. Cape Town: C. Struik Publishers; 1966.

Duncan AC, Jäger AK, van Staden J. Screening of Zulu medicinal plants for angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;68:63-70.

Ochwang’i DO, Kimwele CN, Oduma JA, Gathumbi PK, Mbaria JM, Kiama SG. Medicinal plants used in treatment and management of cancer in Kakamega County, Kenya. J Ethnopharmacol 2014;151:1040-55.

Tuasha N, Petros B, Asfaw Z. Medicinal plants used by traditional healers to treat malignancies and other human ailments in Dalle District, Sidama zone, Ethiopia. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2018;14:15.

Gerstner J. A preliminary checklist of Zulu names of plants with short notes. Bantu Stud 1941;15:277-301.

Hutchings A, Scott AH, Lewis G, Cunningham AB. Zulu Medicinal Plants: An Inventory. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press; 1996.

Long C. Swaziland’s Flora: SiSwati names and uses (2005). Swaziland National Trust Commission, Mbambane. Available from: http://www. sntc.org.sz/index.asp. [Last accessed on 2018 May 7].

Mulaudzi RB, Ndhlala AR, Kulkarni MG, Finnie JF, Van Staden J. Antimicrobial properties and phenolic contents of medicinal plants used by the Venda people for conditions related to venereal diseases. J Ethnopharmacol 2011;135:330-7.

Mulaudzi RB, Ndhlala AR, Kulkarni MG, Finnie JF, Van Staden J. Anti-inflammatory and mutagenic evaluation of medicinal plants used by Venda people against venereal and related diseases. J Ethnopharmacol 2013;146:173-9.

Aladesanmi AJ, Iwalewa EO, Adebajo AC, Akinkunmi EO, Taiwo BJ, Olorunmola FO, et al. Antimicrobial and antioxidant activities of some Nigerian medicinal plants. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med 2007;4:173-84.

Njoroge GN, Bussmann RW. Herbal usage and informant consensus in ethno veterinary management of cattle diseases among the Kikuyus (Central Kenya). J Ethnopharmacol 2006;108:332-9.

Okello SV, Nyunja RO, Netondo GW, Onyango JC. Ethno botanical study of medicinal plants used by Sabaots of Mt. Elgon, Kenya. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med 2010;7:1-10.

Wanzala W, Takken W, Mukabana WR, Pala AO, Hassanali A. Ethno knowledge of Bukusu community on livestock tick prevention and control in Bungoma District, Western Kenya. J Ethnopharmacol 2012;140:298-324.

Tekle Y. An ethno-veterinary botanical survey of medicinal plants in Kochore District of Gedeo Zone, Southern nations nationalities and peoples regional state (SNNPRs), Ethiopia. J Sci Innovative Res 2014;3:433-45.

Kewessa G, Abebe T, Demessie A. Indigenous knowledge on the use and management of medicinal trees and shrubs in Dale district, Sidama zone, Southern Ethiopia. Ethnobot Res Appl 2015;14:171-82.

Muregi FW, Chhabra SC, Njagi EN, Lang’at-Thoruwa CC, Njue WM, Orago AS, et al. Anti-plasmodial activity of some Kenyan medicinal plant extracts singly and in combination with chloroquine. Phytother Res 2004;18:379-84.

Koch A, Tamez P, Pezzuto J, Soejarto D. Evaluation of plants used for antimalarial treatment by the maasai of Kenya. J Ethnopharmacol 2005;101:95-9.

Njoroge GN, Bussmann RW. Diversity and utilization of antimalarial ethnophytotherapeutic remedies among the Kikuyus (Central Kenya). J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2006;2:8.

Gachathi M. Kikuyu Botanical Dictionary: A Guide to Plant Names, Uses and Culture Values. Nairobi: Tropical Botany Press; 2007.

Opio DR, Andama E, Kureh GT. Ethnobotanical survey of antimalarial plants in areas of Abukamola, Angeta, Oculokori and Omarari of Alebtong District in Northern Uganda. Eur J Med Plants 2017;21:1-14.

Suleman S, Tufa TB, Kebebe D, Belew S, Mekonnen Y, Gashe F, et al. Treatment of malaria and related symptoms using traditional herbal medicine in Ethiopia. J Ethnopharmacol 2018;213:262-79.

Regassa R. Assessment of indigenous knowledge of medicinal plant practice and mode of service delivery in Hawassa city, Southern Ethiopia. J Med Plant Res 2013;7:517-35.

Meragiaw M, Asfaw Z, Argaw M. The status of ethnobotanical knowledge of medicinal plants and the impacts of resettlement in Delanta, North Western Wello, Northern Ethiopia. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med 2016;2016:24.

Pujol J. Natur Africa: The herbalist handbook. Durban: Jean Pujol Natural Healers Foundation; 1990.

Sewram V, Raynor MW, Mulholland DA, Raidoo DM. The uterotonic activity of compounds isolated from the supercritical fluid extract of Ekebergia capensis. J Pharm Biomed Anal 2000;24:133-45.

Jiofack T, Fokunang C, Guedje N, Kemeuze V, Fongnzossie FE, Nkongmeneck BA, et al. Ethnobotanical uses of medicinal plants of two ethno ecological regions of Cameroon. Int J Med Med Sci 2010;2:60-79.

Lulekal E, Asfaw Z, Kelbessa E, Van Damme P. Ethnomedicinal study of plants used for human ailments in Ankober District, North Shewa zone, Amhara Region, Ethiopia. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2013;9:63.

Mabogo DE. The Ethnobotany of the Vhavenda [M.S. thesis]: Pretoria: University of Pretoria; 1990.

Girmay T, Teshome Z. Assessment of traditional medicinal plants used to treat human and livestock ailments and their threatening factors in Gulomekeda District, Northern Ethiopia. Int J Emerg Trends Sci Technol 2017;4:5061-70.

Kama-Kama F, Midiwo J, Nganga J, Maina N, Schiek E, Omosa LK, et al. Selected ethno-medicinal plants from Kenya with in vitro activity against major African livestock pathogens belonging to the Mycoplasma mycoides cluster. J Ethnopharmacol 2016;192:524-34.

Amusan OO, Sukati NA, Dlamini PS, Sibandze FG. Some Swazi phytomedicines and their constituents. Afr J Biotechnol 2007;6:267-72.

York T, de Wet H, van Vuuren SF. Plants used for treating respiratory infections in rural Maputaland, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol 2011;135:696-710.

Zerabruk S, Yirga G. Traditional knowledge of medicinal plants in Gindeberet District, Western Ethiopia. S Afr J Bot 2012;78:165-9.

Rabe T, Van Staden J. Antibacterial activity of South African plants used for medicinal purposes. J Ethnopharmacol 1997;56:81-7.

Grierson DS, Afolayan AJ. An ethnobotanical study of plants used for the treatment of wounds in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;67:327-32.

Getaneh S, Girma Z. An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in debre libanos wereda, central Ethiopia. Afr J Plant Sci 2014;8:366-79.

Jeruto P, Too E, Mwamburi LA, Amuka O. An inventory of medicinal plants used to treat gynaecological obstetric-urino-genital disorders in South Nandi sub county in Kenya. J Nat Sci Res 2015;5:136-52.

Eguale T, Tilahun G, Gidey M, Mekonnen Y. In vitro anthelmintic activities of four Ethiopian medicinal plants against Haemonchus contortus. Pharmacol Online 2006;3:153-65.

Ndukwe IG, Habila JD, Bello IA, Adeleye EO. Phytochemical analysis and antimicrobial screening of crude extracts from the leaves, stem bark and root bark of Ekebergia senegalensis A. Juss. Afr J Biotechnol 2006;5:1792-4.

Amoo SO, Aremu AO, Moyo M, Van Staden J. Antioxidant and acetyl cholinesterase-inhibitory properties of long-term stored medicinal plants. BMC Complem Altern Med 2012;12:87.

Murata T, Miyase T, Muregi FW, Naoshima-Ishibashi Y, Umehara K, Warashina T, et al. Antiplasmodial triterpenoids from Ekebergia capensis. J Nat Prod 2008;71:167-74.

Irungu BN, Orwa JA, Gruhnojic A, Fitzpatrick PA, Landberg G, Kimani F, et al. Constituents of the roots and leaves of Ekebergia capensis and their potential antiplasmodial and cytotoxic activities. Molecules 2014;19:14235-46.

Bagla VP, McGaw LJ, Eloff JN. The antiviral activity of six South African plants traditionally used against infections in ethno veterinary medicine. Vet Microbiol 2012;155:198-206.

Mulholland DA, Lourine SE. Limonoids from Ekebergia capensis. Phytochem 1998;47:1357-61.

Lontsi D, Ayafor JF, Sondengam BL, Connolly JD, Rycroft DS. The use of two-dimensional long-range δC/δH correlation in conjunction with the one-dimensional proton-coupled 13C NMR spectrum in the structural elucidation of ekeberginine, a new carbazole alkaloid from Ekebergiasenegalensis (Meliaceae). Tetrahedron Lett 1985;26:4249-52.

Okogun JI, Enyenihi VU, Ekong DE. Spectral studies on coumarins and the determination of the constitution of ekersenin by total synthesis. Tetrahedron 1978;34:1221-4.

Taylor DA. Ekebergin, a limonoid extractive from Ekebergia capensis. Phytochem 1981;20:2263-5.

Mulholland DA, Mahomed HA, Lourine S. A comparison of extractives from the bark of Ekebergia capensis and Ekebergia senegalensis. S Afr J Bot 1997;63:259-60.

Nishiyama Y, Moriyasu M, Ichimaru M, Tichibana Y, Kato A, Mathenge SG, et al. Acyclic triterpenoids from Ekebergia capensis. Phytochem 1996;42:803-7.

Vambe M, Aremu AO, Chukwujekwu JC, Finnie JF, Van Staden J. Antibacterial screening, synergy studies and phenolic content of seven South African medicinal plants against drug-sensitive and-resistant microbial strains. S Afr J Bot 2018;114:250-9.

Sofidiya MD, Odukoya OA, Familoni OB, Inya-Agha SI. Free radical scavenging activity of some Nigerian medicinal plant extracts. Pak J Biol Sci 2006;9:1438-41.

Jäger AK, Hutchings A, Van Staden J. Screening of Zulu medicinal plants for prostaglandin-synthesis inhibitors. J Ethnopharmacol 1996;52:95-100.

William A, Ngulde SI, Tijjani MB, Malgwi BU, Sandabe UK. Analgesic activities of the aqueous extract of Ekebergia senegalensis A. Jussstem bark in albino rats. Continental J Pharmacol Toxicol Res 2013;6:17-21.

McGaw LJ, Jäger AK, Van Staden J. Antibacterial, anthelmintic and anti-amoebic activity in South African medicinal plants. J Ethnopharmacol 2000;72:247-63.

York T, Van Vuuren SF, de Wet H. An antimicrobial evaluation of plants used for the treatment of respiratory infections in rural Maputaland, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol 2012;144:118-27.

Mabona U, Viljoen A, Shikanga E, Marston A, van Vuuren S. Antimicrobial activity of Southern African medicinal plants with dermatological relevance: From an ethnopharmacological screening approach, to combination studies and the isolation of a bioactive compound. J Ethnopharmacol 2013;148:45-55.

Lall N, Meyer JJ. In vitro inhibition of drug-resistant and drug-sensitive strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis by ethnobotanically selected South African plants. J Ethnopharmacol 1999;66:347-54.

Kamadyaapa DR, Gondwe MM, Moodley K, Ojewole JA, Musabayane CT. Cardiovascular effects of Ekebergia capensis Sparrm (Meliaceae) ethanolic leaf extract in experimental animal paradigms. Cardiovasc J Afr 2009;20:162-7.

Tagne RS, Telefo BP, Nyemb JN, Yemele DM, Njima SN, Goka SM, et al. Anticancer and antioxidant activities of methanol extracts and fractions of some Cameroonian medicinal plants. Asian Pac J Trop Med 2014;7:s442-7.

Clarkson C, Maharaj VJ, Crouch NR, Grace OM, Pillay P, Matsabisa MG, et al. In vitro antiplasmodial activity of medicinal plants native to or naturalised in South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol 2004;92:177-91.

Muregi FW, Ishih A, Miyase T, Suzuki T, Kino H, Amano T, et al. Antimalarial activity of methanolic extracts from plants used in Kenyan ethnomedicine and their interactions with chloroquine (CQ) against a CQ-tolerant rodent parasite, in mice. J Ethnopharmacol 2007;111:190-5.

Chukwuma OC. Meliaceae plants and vector control of malaria: Larvicidal studies of Ekebergia senegalensis A Juss and Cedrela odorata Linn. Planta Med 2013;79:sl45.

Musili R, Muregi F, Mwatha J, Muriu D, M’rewa L, Kamau T, et al. Antischistosomal Activity of Azadirachta indica and Ekebergia capensis in Mice Infected with Schistosoma mansoni. Eur J Med Plant 2015;6:92-102.

Mokoka TA, Xolani PK, Zimmermann S, Hata Y, Adams M, Kaiser M, et al. Antiprotozoal screening of 60 South African plants, and the identification of the antitry panosomal germacranolides schkuhrin I and II. Planta Med 2013;79:1380-4.

Elgorashi EE, Taylor JL, Maes A, Van Staden J, De Kimpe N, Verschaeve L. Screening of medicinal plants used in South African traditional medicine for genotoxic effects. Toxicol Lett 2003;143:195-207.

Taylor JL, Elgorashi EE, Maes A, Gorp UV, De Kimpe N, Van Staden J, et al. Investigating the safety of plants used in South African traditional medicine: Testing for genotoxicity in the micronucleus and alkaline comet assays. Environ Mol Mutagenesis 2003;42:144-54.

Reid KA, Maes J, Maes A, Van Staden J, De Kimpe N, Mulholland DA, et al. Evaluation of the mutagenic and antimutagenic effects of South African plants. J Ethnopharmacol 2006;106:44-50.

Maroyi A. Dicoma anomala Sond: A review of its botany, ethnomedicine, phytochemistry and pharmacology. Asian J Pharm Clin Res 2018;11:70-7.

Ansari I, Patil DT. A brief review on phytochemical and pharmacological profile of Carissa spinarum L. Asian J Pharm Clin Res 2018;11:12-8.



How to Cite

Maroyi, A. “A REVIEW OF THE ETHNOMEDICINAL USES, PHYTOCHEMISTRY AND PHARMACOLOGICAL PROPERTIES OF EKEBERGIA CAPENSIS SPARRM”. Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, vol. 11, no. 10, Oct. 2018, pp. 59-68, doi:10.22159/ajpcr.2018.v11i10.28816.



Review Article(s)

Most read articles by the same author(s)