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Plant Information

Scientific Name: Mondia whitei
Alternative Names: Tonic Root (Eng), Umondi, Mundi (Zu), Mungurawu (Shona), Mulondo

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Mondia whitei
Mondia whitei


  • Perennial
  • Mondia whitei is endemic to South, Central, East and West Africa.
  • In South Africa it is restricted to the coast and midlands in KwaZulu-Natal and to the Limpopo Province.
  • It was named after a farmer A.S. White from KwaZulu-Natal.
  • He noted that this plant was extensively collected by the Zulu people and for identification he sent roots to botanists in England.
  • Mondia whitei is a high climbing vine with a large tuberous rootstock, large heart-shaped leaves and it bears red-purple flowers followed by seedpods. It is frost-intolerant and is a good garden plant where a climber is needed to provide a shaded area.
  • Mondia whitei, is a versatile and magical African herb that became popular as an aphrodisiac.
  • Throughout Africa and also in South Africa it has been so heavily exploited that it has become rare in the wild with a very high risk of extinction.
  • Today it is listed as Endangered.

Culinary Uses

  • The bitter tasting roots have a sweet after-taste and a vanilla-like odour.
  • People either chew the root or brew it as a tea or bear.
  • It is regarded as a novel African fragrance or spice.
  • The leaves can be used as a substitute for spinach.
  • In South Africa the root is sometimes cooked with meat to enhance the flavour.

Parts Used

  • The roots and leaves.

Medicinal Uses. It is said that

  • The roots have been used as a traditional cure for male infertility problems and today its effects on the male reproductive system have been thoroughly researched.
  • It is an aphrodisiac and promotes sexual arousal, enhances sexual performance, increases sensitivity and cure erectile dysfunction in men.
  • The potency of Mondia whitei as an aphrodisiac has not only been demonstrated through its ability to increase testosterone production or relax corpus cavernosum tissue, but by also enhancing human sperm function.
  • It has been shown to have an effect on erectile dysfunction similar to Sildenafil (Viagra) which stimulates the release of nitric oxide which relaxes muscles, increases blood flow and causes erections.
  • As an aphrodisiac for the treatment of impotence, erectile dysfunction and infertility, men eat the barks of the root or drink an extract of the roots..
  • Mondia whitei is a remedy for other ailments as well – heartburn, indigestion, flatulence, gonorrhoea, abdominal pain, constipation, bilharzia, premature uterine contractions in pregnant women, appetite stimulant, asthma, and high blood pressure.
  • It has also been tested positively for micronutrients like vitamins A, D E and K, zinc, iron, magnesium, and calcium

Other Uses

  • The seeds are believed to have once been used to make arrow poisons.
  • Strong fibres may be obtained from the stems and woven into ropes.
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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