Prunus africana (Hook.f.) Kalkman

Last updated: 9 November 2016

Scientific Name

Prunus africana (Hook.f.) Kalkman 


Laurocerasus africana (Hook.f.) Browicz [Unresolved], Pygeum africanum Hook.f. [1]

Vernacular Name

English Bitter almond, red stink wood [2], African almond [3]
East Africa Mkonde-konde, muiri, ntasesa [2]
Kenya Mueri [2]
Southern Africa Bittermandel, nuwehout, rooistinkhout; mogotlhori (North and north east Transvaal); mulala-maanga (Vend); umDumezulu, umDumizula, iNkokhokho, umLalume, nGubozinyeweni, umKhakhazi (Zulu); iNyazangoma, umKakase, umKhakhazi (Xhosa) [2], muchambati (Shona), muchati (Ndau) [3]
Cameroon Alumty, vla. [2]

Geographical Distributions

Prunus africana can be found throughout Africa, Comoros, and Madagascar. [4]

Botanical Description

P. africana is a member of Rasaceae family. It is medium to large evergreen tree that can grow up to 2 m height.

The bark is dark brown and rough.

The leaves are elliptic, 5-15 cm long, hairless, glossy dark green above, paler beneath with distinct, darker veining; margin finely toothed with 1-2 glandular dots between the teeth near the base; petiole 1-2 cm long, channelled, often reddish.

The inflorescences are consists of 7-15-flowered, axillary, 3-7 cm long.

The flowers are white, small with 10-20 stamens.

The fruit is wider than long, up to 1.2 cm in diameter, red to purple-brown, very bitter. [3]


No documentation.

Chemical Constituent

P. africana has been reported to contain phytosterols (including beta-sitosterol), pentacyclic triterpenes, ferulic acid esters. [5][6]

Plant Part Used

Bark [7]

Traditional Use

The bark of the P. africana has been used traditionally for the discomfort of benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH) by the Zulu people of Africa. Other peoples of Africa and Madagascar use the bark for generalized urinary-tract troubles, fever, stomach ache, and "madness" and as an aphrodisiac. [7]

Preclinical Data


Anticancer activity

P. Africana extract has been reported to exhibit anti-inflammatory activity on prostatic cell in patients suffering from benign prostatic hypertrophy (BPH). Results obtained show that P. africana extract dissolved in DMSO significantly inhibited the production of 5-lipoxygenase metabolites at concentrations as low as 3 micrograms/ml (p < 0.01), while the same extract dissolved in NaOH/HCl exhibited an inhibitory effect at 10 micrograms/ml (p < 0.01). [8]

Among extract tested, dichloromethane extract from P. africana stem barks has been demonstrated the highest antiandrogenic effect by the isolation of  N-butylbenzenesulfonamide (NBBS) that harbour androgen antagonistic activity. [9]

Phytosterols in P. africana bark have been reported to have activity against prostate cancer both in vitro and in vivo. [10] A laboratory study in rats found that early treatment with P. africana could effectively suppress the oxidative stress status in diabetic bladder and may slow down the process of diabetic cystopathy. [11]

Hypocholesterolemic activity

The ferulic acid esters found in P. africana bark have a hypocholesterolemic action and may reduce the intraprostatic level of cholesterol, a precursor of the local synthesis of androgens. These esters may increase the number of androgenic receptors, effectively decreasing free hormone levels. [12]


No documentation.

Clinical Data

Clinical findings

Anticancer activity

P. africana extract tested on patient with symptoms of BPH, indicated a reduction in nocturnal frequency by 32 percent and the mean reduction was highly statistically significant. Mean maximum urinary flow, average urinary flow and urine volume were also statistically significantly improved, but the modest improvement in post-voiding volume did not reach statistical significance. The improvements, which exceeded those observed with placebo in earlier studies, were maintained after one month without treatment indicating an interesting persistence of clinically useful activity. Prostatic volume and quality of sexual life remained unchanged throughout. No treatment-related adverse effects were observed. [13]

Patients with symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) entered a 2-month randomized, parallel-group, double-blind, comparative phase (group A, 50 mg twice daily; group B, 100 mg once daily), followed by a 10-month, open phase (100 mg once daily) of P. africana extract. Results showed that P. africana extract at 50 mg twice daily and 100 mg once daily proved equally effective and safe at 2 months. [14]

The 134 patients (aged 53 to 84 years) with symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia were were randomly assigned to receive two capsules of the standard dose of an Urtica dioica/Prunus africana preparation (300 mg of U. dioica root extract combined with 25 mg of P. africana bark extract) or two capsules containing half the standard dose twice daily for 8 weeks. After 28 days' treatment, urine flow, residual urine, and nycturia were significantly reduced in both treatment groups. After 56 days' treatment, further significant decreases were found in residual urine (half-dose group) and in nycturia (both groups). [15]


No documentation.

Interaction & Depletion

No documentation.


No documentation.


Dosage Range

100-200mg (standardized extract), 1-2 times a day [7]

Most Common Dosage

100 mg (standardized extract), 1-2 times a day [7]


Standardized to a 14% content of sterols [7]

Poisonous Management

No documentation.

Line drawing

No documentation.


  1. The Plant List. Prunus africana (Hook.f) Kalkman. 2013 ver1.1 [updated 2011 Oct 18; cited 2016 May 30]. Available from:
  2. Quattrocchi U. CRC world dictionary of medicinal and poisonous plants: Common names, scientific names, eponyms, synonyms, and etymology. Volume IV M-Q. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press, 2012; p. 728-729.
  3. Flora of Zimbabwe: Cultivated plants. Prunus aricana (Hook.f.) Kalkman. c2002-2016 [updated 2013 Nov 8; cited 2016 May 20]. Available from:
  4. US National Plant Germplasm System. Prunus africana (Hook.f.) Kalkman. [homepage on the Internet] No date [cited 2016 May 30]. Available from:
  5. Pierini N, Citti F, Di Marzio S, Pozzato C, Quercia V. [Identification and determination of N-docosanol in the bark extract of Pygeum africanum and in patent medicines containing it]. Boll Chim Farm. 1982;121(1):27-34. Italian.
  6. longo R, Tira S. Steroidal and other components of Pygeum africanum bark. Farmaco Prat. 1983;38(7):287-292.
  7. Pygeum. American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. Am J Health Syst Pharm. [serial online]. 2001 [cited 2016 May 30]; 58(2). Available from: Medscape.
  8. Paubert-Braquet M, Cave A, Hocquemiller R, et al. Effect of Pygeum africanum extract on A23187-stimulated production of lipoxygenase metabolites from human polymorphonuclear cells. J Lipid Mediat Cell Signal. 1994;9(3):285-290.
  9. Schleich S, Papaioannou M, Baniahmad A, Matusch R. Extracts from Pygeum africanum and other ethnobotanical species with antiandrogenic activity. Planta Med. 2006;72(9):807-813.
  10. Shenouda NS, Sakla MS, Newton LG, et al. Phytosterol Pygeum africanum regulates prostate cancer in vitro and in vivo. Endocrine. 2007;31(1):72-81.
  11. Wang D, Li Y, Hou G, et al. Pygeum africanum: Effect on oxidative stress in early diabetes-induced bladder. Int Urol Nephrol. 2010;42(2):401-408.
  12. Saito T, Nohno T, Yoshida H, Yokoya H. Trans-4-hydroxy-3-methoxycinnamic acid (ferulic acid) inhibits the effect of androgens on the rat prostate. Experientia. 1979;35(5):696-699.
  13. Breza J, Dzurny O, Borowka A, et al. Efficacy and acceptability of tadenan (Pygeum africanum extract) in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH): A multicentre trial in central Europe. Curr Med Res Opin. 1998;14(3):127-139.
  14. Chatelian C, Autet W, Brackman F. Comparison of once and twice daily dosage froms of Pygeum africanum extract in patients with benign prostatic hyperplasia: A randomized, double-blind study, with long-term open label extension. Urology. 1999;54(3):473-478.
  15. Krzeski T, Kazón M, Borkowski A, Witeska A, Kuczera J. Combined extracts of Urtica dioica and Pygeum africanum in the treatment of benign prostatic hyperplasia: Double-blind comparison of two doses. Clin Ther. 1993;15(6):1011-1020.