African sausage tree

Family • Bignoneaceae - Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth. - CUCUMBER TREE

Scientific names

Kigelia africana (Linn.) Benth.
Kigelia aethiopica Decne
Kigelia pinnata DC.

Common names

African sausage tree (Engl.)
Cucumber tree (Engl.)

Other vernacular names

AFRIKAANS: Worsboom.
ARABIC: Abu shutor, Abu sidra, Um mashatur, Um shutur.
FRENCH: Saucissonnier.
GERMAN: Leberwurstbaum.
SPANISH: Arbol De Las Salchichas.


African sausage tree is a wide spreading, deciduous, about 10 meters in height. Leaves are alternate and odd pinnate. Leaflets are opposite, ovate to elliptic-ovate, 8 to 16 centimeters long, and pointed or blunt at the tip. Flowers are red, nocturnal, and borne in panicles on very long, pendulous pedicels. Calyx is 2.5 to 3 centimeters long, unequally 5-toothed, or lobed. Corolla is 10 to 12 centimeters long, the tube is rather slender and the limb, broadly bells-shaped, somewhat curved, and 5- lobed. Fruit is hard, greyish-brown, scurfy, large, sausage-shaped, oblong or oblong-cylindric, 20 to 30 centimeters in length, indehiscent, and hanging on very long and fibrous peduncles.


– Native of West Tropical Africa.
– Introduced after the Second World War.
– Cultivated in Manila, Los Baños, Laguna.
– Grown in gardens as an oddity.

– Bark contains only a bitter principle and tannic acid.
– Studies have yielded naphthaquinones, iridoids, fatty acids, norviburtinal, sterols, lignans, terpenoid, flavonoids, and volatile constituents.
– Study isolated pinnatal in a root bark extract.
– Fruit extract yielded alkaloids, glycosides, terpenoids, flavonoids, tannins, saponins, and reducing sugars.
– A flavanol glycoside has been isolated from the fruits.
– Study isolated kigelin as a major constituent of the plant from the root heartwood.
– Stigmasterol and lapachol have been isolated from the roots.
– Kigelin, ß-sitosterol, 3-dimethyl kigelin and ferulic acid have been isolated from the bark.

Bitter with astringent taste and smell.

Parts used
Fruit, root bark.


In Nigeria, fruit is sold as medicine.
In Nyasaland, in times of scarcity, natives roast and eat the seeds.
– No reported medicinal use in the Philippines.
– In Africa, fruit used as laxative and for dysentery. Fruit also used for acne; fruit powder for wounds and ulcers. Powdered solution used as disinfectant. Fruit powder or slices used for breast firming; also used to reduce swelling and mastitis of the breasts. Plant has been used for its anti-implantation activities.
– In the Gold Coast the fruit, cut up and boiled with peppers, is given for constipation and piles while the bark and fruit are used to heal sores and to restore taste.
– Traditional use as an antileprotic.
– Root-bark has been used for cancer or the uterus.
– In Northern Nigeria, the bitter bark is use for both syphilis and gonorrhea.
– In Southern Nigeria, it is similarly used, and the fruit is used as a wash and drink for young children.
– In the Gold Coast, the bark is used for rheumatism and dysentery.
– The Tongas use the powdered fruit as a dressing for ulcers.
– In Central Africa, the unripe fruit is used as a dressing for rheumatism and syphilis.
– Shona people use the bark or roots powder or infusion for application to ulcers or drunk for the treatment of pneumonia, as gargle for toothache. Leaf compound applied to backaches.
– In West Africa, unripe fruit used as vermifuge and as treatment for piles and rheumatism.
– Other traditional African healers use it for a wide range of ailments: fungal infections, abscesses, psoriasis and eczema; internally, used for dysentery, ringworm, tape-worm, post-partum hemorrhage, malaria, diabetes, pneumonia and toothaches. The fruit is used to increase flow of milk in lactating women. Bark is traditionally used for treatment of syphilis and gonorrhea. Fruits and ground bark are boiled in water and taken orally or as an enema for treating children’s ailments – usually worms. Venereal diseases treated with tree extracts in palm oil or as oral medication.

Additional Sources and Suggested Readings

(1) Kigelia africana (Lam.) Benth – An Overview / Sangita Saini, Harmeet Kaur et al / Natural Product Radiance, Vol 8 (2), 2009, pp 190-197.

(2) Preliminary study on the antioxidant effect of Kigelia africana fruit extract (Bignoniacieae) in male Sprague-
Dawley rats
/ Azu O O, Duru F I O et al / African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 9 (9), pp. 1374-1381, 1 March, 2010

(3) Dietary dried Kigelia africana fruits meal as fertility enhancer in female Clarias gariepinus (BurchelI, 1822)/ A A Dada. E O Adeparusi and O V Alale / Agric. Biol. J. N. Am., 2010, 1(5): 791-795

(4) Anti-inflammatory Activity of Verminoside from Kigelia africana and Evaluation of Cutaneous Irritation in Cell Cultures and Reconstituted Human Epidermis / Patrizia Picerno, Giuseppina Autore et al / J. Nat. Prod., 2005, 68 (11), pp 1610–1614 / DOI: 10.1021/np058046z

(5) Kigelia Trees (Kigelia Africana) / Kigelia can cure skin cancer Malignant Melanoma / 

(6) ANTICONVULSANT ACTIVITY OF KIGELIA PINNATA BARK EXTRACT / Abhishek Singh, Umesh Kumar Sharma et al / International Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, Vol 2, Issue 4, 2010

/ Otimenyin S O and Uzochukwu D C / Asian Journal of Pharmaceutical and Clinical Research, Vol. 3, Issue 4, 2010

(8) Central nervous system stimulant effect of the ethanolic extract of Kigelia africana / Owolabi O. J, Amaechina F. C. and Eledan A. B. / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 2(2), pp. 020-23, February, 2008

(9) Comprehensive scientific demystification of Kigelia africana: A review / Olatunji A. Gabriel and Atolani Olubunmi / African Journal of Pure and Applied Chemistry Vol. 3 (9), pp. 158-164, September, 2009

(10) Suppression of Caco-2 and HEK-293 cell proliferation by Kigelia africana, Mimusops zeyheri and Ximenia caffra seed oils. / Chivandi E, Cave E, Davidson BC, Erlwanger KH, Moyo D, Madziva MT. / In Vivo. 2012 Jan-Feb;26(1):99-105.

(11) Long-term treatment with Kigelia africana fruit extract ameliorates the testicular toxicity following cisplatin administration in male Sprague-Dawley rats / Azu, O. O.1*, Duru, F. I. O., Osinubi, A. A., Oremosu, A. A et al / Journal of Medicinal Plants Research Vol. 5(3), pp. 388-397, 4 February, 2011

(12) Antifungal and antibacterial activities of the ethanolic and aqueous extract of Kigelia africana (Bignoniaceae) stem bark / Omonkhelin J. Owolabi, Eric K. I. Omogbai and Osahon Obasuyi / African Journal of Biotechnology Vol. 6 (14), pp. 1677-1680, 18 July 2007

(13) Antineoplastic activity of a methanolic extract from Kigelia pinnata DC stem bark / Denitsa Momekova, Georgi Momekov *, Ivanka Pencheva and Spiro Konstantinov / Journal of Cancer Therapeutics & Research / DOI :

(14) Pharmacological evaluation of ethanolic extract of Kigelia pinnata fruit against ethylene glycol induced urolithiasis in rats / Ravindra Kumar*, Tirath Kumar, Virender Kamboj, Harish Chander / Asian Journal of Plant Science and Research, 2012, 2 (1):63-72



(17) Evaluation of Analgesic Potential of Kigelia pinnata Leaf Extract in Wistar Rats / Parmar Namita, Rawat Mukesh, Kumar Tirath / International Research Journal of Pharmacy, 2011, 2(10), 87-89. 

(18) Antidiabetic and hypolipidemic activities of Kigelia pinnata flowers extract in streptozotocin induced diabetic rats / Kumar S, Kumar V*, Prakash OM / Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine (2012)543-546

(19) Analgesic and cytotoxic activity of Acorus calamus L., Kigelia pinnata L., Mangifera indica L. and Tabernaemontana divaricata L. / Mohammad Ahad Ali Khan, Mohammad Torequl Islam / Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences 04/2012; 4(2):149-54. DOI:10.4103/0975-7406.94820

(20) Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, and Wound Healing Properties of Kigelia africana (Lam.) Beneth. and Strophanthus hispidus DC. / Christian Agyare, Anita Serwaa Dwobeng, Nicholas Agyepong, Yaw Duah Boakye, Kwesi Boadu Mensah, Patrick George Ayande, and Martin Adarkwa-Yiadom / Advances in Pharmacological Sciences, Volume 2013 (2013) /

(21) ANTIINFLAMMATORY ACTIVITY OF THE FRUIT OF Kigelia pinnata DC / William M Carey, Jeevan Mani Babu D, Venkat Rao N, Krishna Mohan G / Pharmacologyonline 2: 234-245 (2008)

(22) Isolation and in vitro antiamoebic activity of iridoids isolated from Kigelia pinnata / Neelam Bharti, Shailendra Singh, Fehmida Naqvi and Amir Azam / Archive for Organic Chemistry, Volume 2006, Issue 10, pp. 69-76 / 

(23) Growth Inhibitory Activity of Extracted Material and Isolated Compounds from the Fruits of Kigelia pinnata/ Higgins C, Bell T, Delbederi Z, Feutren-Burton S, McClean B, O’Dowd C et al. / Planta Medica. 2010;76(16):1840-1846.

– Fermenting agent: In Africa, baked fruits are used to hasten beer fermentation..
– Cosmetics: Tonga women of the Zambezi valley use a cosmetic preparation of fruits to improved complexion and remove facial blemishes.
– Dye: Boiled fruits a red dye. Roots reported to yield a bright yellow dye.
– Fertility Ritual: In West Africa, the fruit presents as a symbol of phallus and fertility. Nursing women hang strips of fabric on the large fruits, asking for protection and numerous offspring.
– Feed: Leaves are an important livestock fodder. Fruits are sought after by monkeys and elephants.

Study Findings
• Antioxidant / Male Fertility Effect: Study on the antioxidant effect of KA fruit extract on normal rats showed a non-dose dependent elevation in testicular catalase, a significant decline in malondialdehyde and an up-regulation of glutathione. Results offer scientific basis for the use of Kigelia africana fruit extract in the treat of male infertility.
• Antibacterial: Study confirmed the antibacterial activity of K. africana fruits and stem bark.
• Antineoplastic: Study of crude dichlormethane extracts of stem bark and fruit showed cytotoxic activity in vitro againstcultured melanoma and other cancer cell lines. Major components were norviburtinal and ß-sitosterol. Kigelia also contains lapachol which has been found effect in the treatment of solar keratosis, skin cancer and kaposis sarcoma.
• Analgesic/ Anti-Inflammatory: Study of stem bark showed significant analgesic and anti-inflammatory effect most likely via inhibition of prostaglandin synthesis.
• Antimalarial: Study isolated four naphthoquinoids from the root bark of the plant. Results showed good anti-plasmodial activity against chloroquine-resistant and chloroquine-sensitive strains of Plasmodium falciparum.
• CNS Stimulant: Study of ethanolic stem bark extract in mice showed a CNS stimulant effect as shown by a dose-dependent reduction of the duration of barbiturate-induced sleeping time. It suggests a potential for possible use in conditions associated with dizziness, drowsiness and sedation.
• Antiprotozoal: Study of stem bark and root bark extracts showed pronounced activity against both Trypanosoma brucei and T. b. rhodesiense bloodstream forms. A butanol stem extract showed in vitro antiamoebic activity.
• Antidiarrheal: Study of an aqueous leaf extract of K. africana showed antidiarrheal activity with reduced fecal output and protection from castor oil-induced diarrhea in extract-treated animals.
• Cosmetic: Study yields steroidal saponins and two flavonoids (luteolin and quercitin). Reports claim the fruit extract is useful in developing the bust and reinforcing the strength and stability of breast collagen fibers. (2) Dermal preparations claim to remove sunspots (“solar keratosis”) especially in the face and hands. Claims are also made for reduction of wrinkle depth and promotion of tone elasticity, reduction of skin blemishes.
• Verminoside / Anti-Inflammatory: Study of fruit extract yielded verminoside. In vitro assays showed it to have significant anti-inflammatory effects, inhibiting both iNOS expression and NO release.
• Anticonvulsant: Study of Kigelia pinnata showed an anti-seizure effect which may be due in part to linoleic acid, cinnamic acid, and/or flavonoid compounds in the extracts.
• Antidiarrheal / Spasmolytic: Study of E senegalensis and Kigelia africana showed significant reduction in the frequency of diarrhea stools and spontaneous propulsive movement of isolated rabbit jejunum. The spasmolytic effect may explain its use folkloric use in chronic abdominal pain and pains associated with diarrhea.
• Antiproliferative / Spasmolytic: Study of seed oils of K. africana, Mimusops zeyheri and Ximenia caffra on cell proliferation in culture showed suppression of of human colon adenoCA (Caco-2) and human embryonic kidney cells (HEK-293). Results suggest a potential antiproliferative effect of the seed oils on the cell lines.
• Chemotherapeutic / Cisplat in: Study of a fruit extract of K. africana (KAFE) in cisplatin treated male rats. While KAFE may protect against cisplatin-induced testicular damage, the study shows pretreatment may offer a better option in reducing cisplatin-induced damage to the testis in a mechanisms believed to be free-radical mediated.
• Antioxidant Screening / Antibacterial: Antioxidant screening of an aqueous extract yielded enzymatic antioxidants such as catalase, superoxide dismutase, ascorbate oxidase and non-enzymatic antioxidant ascorbic acid. The extract exhibited antibacterial activity against S. aureus, E. coli and P. vulgaris.
• Antifungal / Antibacterial: A crude ethanolic extract exhibited antibacterial and antifungal activities against Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans.
• Antineoplastic / Stem Bark: Study evaluated the antineoplastic activity of a total methanolic extract of stem bark of K. pinnata. TME evoked DNA laddering in SKW-3 cells indicating apoptosis induction. In vitro and in vivo studies displayed prominent cytotoxicity against human tumor cell lines.
• Antiurolithic Activity: Study evaluated an ethanolic extract of fruit of Kigelia pinnata on calcium oxalate urolithiasis in male Wistar albino rats induced by ethylene glycol feeding. Results showed antiurolithic activity with significantly reduction of elevated urinary oxalate, uric acid and phosphate, with decrease deposition of stone forming constituents in the kidneys of calculogenic rats.
• Anti-Inflammatory: Study evaluated the anti-inflammatory activity of a leaf extract of Kigelia pinnata on wistar rats by carrageenan-induced paw edema and cotton pellet-induced granuloma methods. Results showed dose-dependent anti-inflammatory effects.
• Wound Healing: Study evaluated the wound healing potential of an aqueous extract of shade-dried bark in rats, using incision, excision, and dead space wound models. Results showed wound healing efficacy which was attributed to epithelization.
• Analgesic: Study on wistar rats evaluated a leaf extract of K. pinnata for analgesic activity. Results showed significant analgesic activity by hot plate and tail flick methods.
• Antidiabetic / Hypolipidemic / Flowers: Study evaluated the antidiabetic and hypolipidemic activities of methanolic flower extracts in streptozotocin-induced diabetic wistar rats. Results showed significant reduction of blood glucose, serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
• Analgesic / Cytotoxic Activity/ Flowers: Study evaluated various extracts of four medicinal plants for analgesic and cytotoxic activities by acetic acid-induced writhing and brine shrimp lethality assay. The bark of K. pinnata showed significant analgesic and cytotoxic activity and may have a potential in the treatment of pain and tumor.
• Antimicrobial / Cytotoxic Activity/ Flowers: Study of leaf, stem bark and root extracts of K. africana and S. hispidus showed antimicrobial, antioxidant, and enhanced wound healing properties and may justify its medicinal use for the treatment of microbial infections and wounds.
• Anti-Inflammatory / Fruit: A methanolic extract of fruit was studied in various in vivo models of inflammation in rats and mice. Result showed dose-dependent and significant inhibition in all experimental models comparable to standard drugs. Acute toxicity study showed no mortality in dose up to 2000 mg/kg p.o.
• Antiamoebic Activity / Iridoids: Study evaluated the antiamoebic activity of iridoids isolated from K. pinnata stem bark butanol extract. Three known iridoids were isolated, viz., specioside, verminoside, and minecoside and tested against HK-9 strain of Entamoeba histolytica. Verminoside showed two fold antiamoebic activity compared to standard drug. Specioside showed comparable activity with metronidazole.
• Anti-Melanoma / Cytotoxicity / Fruits: Study evaluated components of fruits of K. pinnata with potential growth inhibitory activity against human melanoma cells. Crude fractions showed cytotoxicity in vitro against human melanoma cells. Compounds isolated included isocoumarins, (demethylkigelin and kigelin), fatty acids (oleic and heneicosanoic acids), the furonaphthoquinone, 2-(1-hydroxyethyl)-naphtho[2,3-b]furan-4,9-dione, and ferulic acid. The furonaphthoquinones showed cytotoxic effect in two human breast cancer cell lines tested.

Seeds and extracts in the cybermarket.
Ingredients of various cosmetic and rejuvenating supplements.