The text comes from this very informative website and is written by Lerato Hoveka, National Herbarium, Pretoria, January 2017
A perennial climbing vine that is used by African traditional healers to induce vivid dreams that enable them to communicate efficiently with their ancestors. The seeds of this remarkable plant are coveted items in the local muthi market because of their medicinal and magical value.
The fruit is an enormous flat, woody and segmented pod, that measures up to 2 m long and 150 mm wide. Seeds are shiny, hard, dark brown, ± 50 × 35 mm.
Entada rheedii is not threatened, and is listed in the Red List of South African plants as Least Concern (LC).
Distribution and habitat
Entada rheedii has a cosmopolitan distribution; it is indigenous to Africa, Asia, Australia and Madagascar. In South Africa, it occurs in the KwaZulu-Natal Province. It grows in tropical lowlands, along the coastline and river banks, in woodland, thickets and riverine rain forests.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Entada is derived from the Portuguese word dentado, meaning ‘toothed’. This describes the projection on the stems and leaves of some species. The species is named after botanist and naturalist Hendrik Adriaan van Rheede (1636–1691), who worked on plants of the Malabar region in India and produced the first volume of Hortus malabaricus.
Entada species are assumed to self-pollinate, with pollen grains being transferred from the anther to the stigma of the same plant. Flowers produce gigantic pods that contain large seeds. The seeds are dispersed by water, and it takes some years before the seed coat is naturally scarified and the embryo is able to root. Once the plant has rooted, it encircles a surrounding tree such as Bauhinia purpurea, Cassia spectabilis, Broussonetia papyrifera, Tebebuia rosea, Eucalyptus tereticornis and Tectona grandis, and grows upwards. The leaves serve as larval food for two butterfly species: Logania distanti massalia and Nacaduba pactolus continentalis.
Entada rheedii has many uses amongst indigenous tribes in Africa. In South Africa, it is used by traditional healers to induce vivid dreams that allow them to communicate efficiently with their ancestors. To induce these vivid dreams, dried seeds are powdered and smoked in a pipe before bed time. The seeds are also believed to have magical properties. They are worn as necklaces and bracelets in order to bring good luck to the owner.
In Asia, a paste made from the leaves, bark and roots, is used to clean wounds, treat burns and heal jaundice in children. Tea made from the whole plant is used to improve blood circulation to the brain and heal the after-effects of a stroke. The bark is used to treat diarrhoea, dysentery and parasitic infections.
In Australia, the seeds are leached in water to remove toxic secondary metabolites and they are cooked and consumed as a vegetable by the Aborigines. The plant is also used for making rope, fish poison, and also for firewood