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Starr 030628-0122 Rauvolfia sandwicensis.jpg
Rauvolfia sandwicensis
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Asterids
Order: Gentianales
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Rauvolfioideae
Tribe: Vinceae
Subtribe: Rauvolfiinae
Benth. & Hook.f.
Genus: Rauvolfia
Type species
Rauvolfia tetraphylla
L., 1753[2]
  • Cyrtosiphonia Miq.
  • Dissolena Lour.
  • Heurckia Müll.Arg.
  • Ophioxylon L.
  • Podochrosia Baill.

Rauvolfia (sometimes spelled Rauwolfia) is a genus of evergreen trees and shrubs, commonly known as devil peppers, in the family Apocynaceae. The genus is named to honor Leonhard Rauwolf. The genus can mainly be found in tropical regions of Africa, Asia, Latin America, and various oceanic islands.[3][4]


The International Code of Nomenclature for algae, fungi, and plants stipulates that the genus name was established by Carl Linnaeus in his 1753 book Species Plantarum,[5][6] which cites his earlier description[7] which states in Botanical Latin that the name is dedicated "to Leonhard Rauwolf": "Leon. Rauvolfio". Although some subsequent authors hypercorrected the Classical Latin letter "v" to a modern "w", this is not accepted by the code of nomenclature.[8]

Chemical constituents

Rauvolfia serpentina, commonly known as or Indian snakeroot or sarpagandha, contains many indole alkaloids.[9]

Medicinal uses

Reserpine is an alkaloid first isolated from R. serpentina and was widely used as an antihypertensive drug.[citation needed] It had drastic psychological side effects and has been replaced as a first-line antihypertensive drug by other compounds that lack such adverse effects, although combination drugs that include it are still available in some countries as second-line antihypertensive drugs.[citation needed]

Other plants of this genus are also used medicinally, both in conventional western medicine and in Ayurveda, Unani, and folk medicine.[citation needed]


Women who are pregnant, may be pregnant, or plan pregnancy in the near future should not ingest Rauvolfia plants or preparations made from them.[citation needed] They may also be harmful for people with any chronic disease of the gastrointestinal tract, such as stomach or duodenal ulcers, gastroesophageal reflux disease (reflux esophagitis), ulcerative colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and diverticulosis.[citation needed] No "safe" dosage has been established.


Rauvolfia serpentina is declining in the wild due to collection for its medicinal uses.[10] Consequently, it is listed in CITES Appendix II.[11] Rauvolfia vomitoria is a highly invasive species in Hawaiʻi, and is capable of establishing dense monotypic stands.


Species include:[3]

  1. Rauvolfia amsoniifolia A.DC. - Philippines, Sulawesi, Maluku, Lesser Sunda Islands
  2. Rauvolfia andina Markgr. - Peru
  3. Rauvolfia anomala Rapini & I.Koch - Mato Grosso
  4. Rauvolfia aphlebia (Standl.) A.H.Gentry - Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia
  5. Rauvolfia bahiensis A.DC. - E Brazil
  6. Rauvolfia balansae (Baill.) Boiteau - New Caledonia
  7. Rauvolfia biauriculata Müll.Arg. - Cuba, Haiti, Lesser Antilles, Trinidad & Tobago
  8. Rauvolfia caffra Sond., 1850 - Africa from Togo east to Tanzania, south to Cape Province
  9. Rauvolfia capixabae I.Koch & Kin.-Gouv - Bahia + Espírito Santo in Brazil
  10. Rauvolfia capuronii Markgr. - Madagascar
  11. Rauvolfia chaudocensis Pierre ex Pit. - S Vietnam
  12. Rauvolfia cubana A.DC. - Cuba; naturalized in Yunnan
  13. Rauvolfia decurva Hook.f. - India
  14. Rauvolfia dichotoma K.Schum. - São Tomé
  15. Rauvolfia gracilis I.Koch & Kin.-Gouv. - Rondônia, Mato Grosso
  16. Rauvolfia grandiflora Mart. ex A.DC. - E Brazil
  17. Rauvolfia hookeri S.R.Sriniv. & Chithra - S India
  18. Rauvolfia indosinensis Pichon - Cambodia, S Vietnam
  19. Rauvolfia insularis Markgr. - Palau
  20. Rauvolfia × ivanovii Granda & V.R.Fuentes - Cuba (R. ligustrina × R. viridis)
  21. Rauvolfia javanica Koord. & Valeton - Java, Sumatra, Lesser Sunda Islands
  22. Rauvolfia kamarora Hendrian - Sulawesi
  23. Rauvolfia leptophylla A.S.Rao - Colombia, Venezuela
  24. Rauvolfia letouzeyi Leeuwenb. - Gabon, Republic of Congo
  25. Rauvolfia ligustrina Willd. ex Roem. & Schult. - from Mexico + Cuba south to Paraguay + NE Argentina
  26. Rauvolfia linearifolia Britton & P.Wilson - E Cuba
  27. Rauvolfia littoralis Rusby - Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador
  28. Rauvolfia macrantha K.Schum. ex Markgr. - Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, N Brazil, Peru
  29. Rauvolfia mannii Stapf, 1894 - tropical Africa from Ivory Coast to Tanzania, south to Malawi
  30. Rauvolfia mattfeldiana Markgr. - Brazil
  31. Rauvolfia maxima Markgr. - Venezuela
  32. Rauvolfia media Pichon, 1947 - Comoros, Madagascar
  33. Rauvolfia micrantha Hook.f., 1882 - SW India, S Thailand, Vietnam
  34. Rauvolfia microcarpa Hook.f. - Myanmar
  35. Rauvolfia moluccana Markgr. - Maluku, New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago
  36. Rauvolfia mombasiana Stapf - Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique
  37. Rauvolfia moricandii A.DC. - E Brazil
  38. Rauvolfia nana E.A.Bruce - E Angola, Zambia, S Zaïre
  39. Rauvolfia nitida Jacq. - West Indies, Panama, S Mexico
  40. Rauvolfia nukuhivensis (Fosberg & Sachet) Lorence & Butaud - French Polynesia but extinct
  41. Rauvolfia obtusiflora A.DC. - Madagascar
  42. Rauvolfia oligantha Hendrian - C Java
  43. Rauvolfia pachyphylla Markgr. - Venezuela, Guyana
  44. Rauvolfia paraensis Ducke - N Brazil, Peru, Suriname, French Guiana
  45. Rauvolfia paucifolia A.DC. - E Brazil
  46. Rauvolfia peguana Hook.f. - Myanmar
  47. Rauvolfia pentaphylla Ducke - N Brazil, Peru
  48. Rauvolfia polyphylla Benth. - S Venezuela, N Brazil
  49. Rauvolfia praecox K.Schum. ex Markgr. - W Brazil, Peru, Bolivia
  50. Rauvolfia pruinosifolia I.Koch & Kin.-Gouv. - Minas Gerais
  51. Rauvolfia purpurascens Standl. - Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador
  52. Rauvolfia rhonhofiae Markgr. - Ecuador
  53. Rauvolfia rivularis Merr. - Myanmar
  54. Rauvolfia rostrata Markgr. - Maluku, New Guinea, Bismarck Archipelago
  55. Rauvolfia sachetiae Fosberg, 1981 - Marquesas in French Polynesia
  56. Rauvolfia salicifolia Griseb. - Cuba
  57. Rauvolfia sanctorum Woodson - Colombia, Peru
  58. Rauvolfia sandwicensis A.DC., 1844 - Hawaiian Islands (Hawaiʻi)[12]
  59. Rauvolfia schuelii Speg. - Bolivia, NW Argentina
  60. Rauvolfia sellowii Müll.Arg. - Brazil, Paraguay, Misiones Province of Argentina
  61. Rauvolfia semperflorens (Müll.Arg.) Schltr. - New Caledonia
  62. Rauvolfia serpentina (L.) Benth. ex Kurz, 1877 - Indian Subcontinent, China, Southeast Asia
  63. Rauvolfia sevenetii Boiteau - New Caledonia
  64. Rauvolfia spathulata Boiteau - New Caledonia
  65. Rauvolfia sprucei Müll.Arg. - S Venezuela, Peru, N Brazil
  66. Rauvolfia steyermarkii Woodson - Táchira in Venezuela
  67. Rauvolfia sumatrana Jack, 1820 - Guangdong, Thailand, Myanmar, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines
  68. Rauvolfia tetraphylla L., 1753 - Also called Rauwolfia carescens; from Mexico and West Indies to Peru; naturalized in China, Indian Subcontinent, Andaman Islands, Vietnam, Queensland
  69. Rauvolfia tiaolushanensis Tsiang - Hainan in S China
  70. Rauvolfia verticillata (Lour.) Baill., 1895 - China, Indian Subcontinent, Indochina, Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines
  71. Rauvolfia vietnamensis - Vietnam
  72. Rauvolfia viridis Willd. ex Roem. & Schult. - West Indies, Costa Rica, Colombia, Venezuela
  73. Rauvolfia volkensii (K.Schum.) Stapf - Tanzania
  74. Rauvolfia vomitoria Afzel., 1817 - tropical Africa from Senegal east to Sudan + Tanzania, south to Angola; naturalized in China, Bangladesh, Puerto Rico
  75. Rauvolfia weddeliana Müll.Arg. - Brazil, Paraguay
  76. Rauvolfia woodsoniana Standl. - Costa Rica
formerly included[3]
  1. Rauvolfia celastrifolia Baker = Stephanostegia hildebrandtii Baill.
  2. Rauvolfia dentata Tafalla ex D.Don = Citharexylum dentatum D.Don
  3. Rauvolfia flexuosa Ruiz & Pav. = Citharexylum flexuosum (Ruiz & Pav.) D.Don
  4. Rauvolfia glabra Cav. = Vallesia glabra (Cav.) Link
  5. Rauvolfia laevigata Willd. ex Roem. & Schult. = Tabernaemontana amygdalifolia Jacq.
  6. Rauvolfia longifolia A.DC. = Alstonia longifolia (A.DC.) Pichon
  7. Rauvolfia macrophylla Ruiz & Pav. 1799 not Stapf 1894 = Citharexylum flexuosum (Ruiz & Pav.) D.Don
  8. Rauvolfia oppositifolia Spreng. 1822 not Sessé & Moc. 1888 = Tabernaemontana oppositifolia (Spreng.) Urb.
  9. Rauvolfia pubescens Willd. ex Roem. & Schult. = Citharexylum quitense Spreng.
  10. Rauvolfia spinosa Cav. = Citharexylum flexuosum (Ruiz & Pav.) D.Don
  11. Rauvolfia stenophylla Donn.Sm. = Alstonia longifolia (A.DC.) Pichon
  12. Rauvolfia strempelioides Griseb. = Strempeliopsis strempelioides (Griseb.) Benth. ex B.D.Jacks.
  13. Rauvolfia striata Poir. = Ochrosia borbonica J.F.Gmel.


  1. ^ "Rauvolfia L." Germplasm Resources Information Network. United States Department of Agriculture. 2003-03-14. Archived from the original on 2009-09-12. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  2. ^ "Rauvolfia L." TROPICOS. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  3. ^ a b c d "World Checklist of Selected Plant Families". Retrieved May 18, 2014.
  4. ^ Flora of China Vol. 16 Page 157 萝芙木属 luo fu mu shu Rauvolfia Linnaeus, Sp. Pl. 1: 208. 1753.
  5. ^ (McNeill et al. 2012, Article 38.1)
  6. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1753), "Rauvolfia tetraphylla", Species plantarum: exhibentes plantas rite cognitas, ad genera relatas, cum differentiis specificis, nominibus trivialibus, synonymis selectis, locis natalibus, secundum systema sexuale digestas, 1, Stockholm: Lars Salvius, p. 208
  7. ^ Linnaeus, C. (1737), "Rauvolfia g. pl. 179", Hortus Cliffortianus, Amsterdam, p. 75CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  8. ^ (McNeill et al. 2012, Articles 60 and 61, particularly 60.1)
  9. ^ SerpentinaDB
  10. ^ "India's wild medicinal plants threatened by over-exploitation". International Union for Conservation of Nature. 2008-11-24. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  11. ^ "Appendices I, II and III" (PDF). Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species. 2009-05-22. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
  12. ^ Little Jr., Elbert L.; Roger G. Skolmen (1989). "Hao" (PDF). United States Forest Service. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)[permanent dead link]