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Mondia – White Ginger

Mondia, also known as white ginger, (Mondia whitei, Apocynaceae) is a perennial, climbing plant which grows from a tuberous rootstock.1 The roots are said to taste like ginger or licorice, with a hint of vanilla. The foliage is considered beautiful with heart-shaped leaves and flowers that can be described as triple starred – five purplish-cream petals form the base for a second small thin "star" with the third "star" reminiscent of the center of a sand dollar on top. Alternatively, they are said to have an unpleasant, fruity or coconut scent. The fruit is large, woody, and contains numerous seeds. Mondia grows best in tropical and subtropical habitats in woodland and forest areas. It can be found in several locations in its native African environment, including Sudan, Senegal, Swaziland, Kenya, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. Mondia has been heavily exploited for both subsistence and commercial use and is considered endangered.1

Mondia contains the vitamins A, D, K, and E, and the minerals calcium, iron, and zinc, as well as protein.1 Historically, the plant is said to have been used to stimulate the appetite and promote digestion. Portuguese settlers living in Angola used the leaves as a substitute for spinach, boiling them with butter or olive oil. In South Africa, the root is cooked with meat to enhance the flavor of the meat. Mondia has also been used to treat malaria (Benin), to stop post-partum bleeding (leaf tincture; Cameroon), to treat urinary infections, jaundice, and headache (root), as a purgative and to relieve body aches and pains (Kenya), to treat paralysis and epileptic attacks (root; Malawi), to stop vomiting (Uganda), and to treat coughs and chest ailments. [Note: If the plant part is not included, it is because the original source did not list it.] In DR Congo, pounded inflorescences are placed on burning embers, and the smoke is inhaled for relief of childhood asthma. Dried powdered roots are used in magic-religious mixtures in Gabon. The seeds are used in a preparation for poisoned arrow tips in the Central African Republic.2

While mondia is most often used as an aphrodisiac,3 it has also been used as an antacid and for various other gastro-intestinal complaints, to treat anorexia, and to calm both adults and children.1 Other uses are mentioned in HC 071342-482.

Though mondia is endangered in Africa, it is a robust, long-lived plant. In warm, frost-free climates, the plant can be cultivated from seed and can also be found in nurseries.1


1 Bester SP. Mondia whitei (Hook f.) Skeels. PlantZAfrica website. Available at; Accessed September 26, 2013.

2 Lamidi M, Bourobou Bourobou H. Mondia whitei (Hook.f.) Skeels. In: Schmelzer GH, Gurib-Fakim A. (Editors). Prota 11(2): Medicinal plants/Plantes médicinales 2. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands: Plant Resources of Tropical Africa: PROTA, 2010. 3 Oketch-Rabah HA. Mondia whitei, a medicinal plant from Africa with aphrodisiac and antidepressant properties: a review. J Dietary Suppl. December 2012;9(4):272-284.

Lori Glenn,  Managing Editor