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Plant Information

Scientific Name: Silene capensis
Alternative Names: Kleinwildetabak (Afr.), Gun powder plant (Eng.), (Xho.) ubulawu obumhlope, unozitholana, iinkomo yentaba, icham, (So.) Lithotoana, Molokoloko

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Silene capensis
Silene capensis


  • Biennial
  • Indigenous to South Africa.
  • Silene capensis is a plant native to the Eastern Cape of South Africa.
  • It has a lax growing habit and bears fragrant, white flowers that opens at night and closes in the day.
  • Small grey seeds, which apparently look like gunpowder, are held in an urn-like capsule which opens at the top when ripe.
  • It is tolerant of extreme heat up to 40 °C as well as very cold, to −5 °C.
  • Silene capensis needs full sun and well-drained soil.
  • It appears messy in a garden bed or formal situation.

Parts Used

  • The root can be harvested after the second year.

Other Uses

  • Silene capensis is regarded by the Xhosa tribe as a sacred herb and an oneirogenic agent - a substance that causes lucid, vivid dreams, noticeably in colour and vibrancy.
  • The root is traditionally used to induce vivid (and according to the Xhosa, prophetic) lucid dreams during the initiation process of shamans.
  • A small amount of the root is pulverised with water to produce a white froth.
  • This froth is then sucked off and swallowed.
  • The user's dreams for the following several nights are said to be more vivid and memorable than usual.
  • It is regarded across the world as one of the most powerful of the dream enhancing ethno botanical plants.
The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only. This site merely recounts the traditional uses of specific plants as recorded through history. Always seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Mountain Herb Estate, and its representatives will not be held responsible for the improper use of any plants or documentation provided. By use of this site and the information contained herein you agree to hold harmless Mountain Herb Estate, its affiliates and staff
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