Silene spp.

Campion; Catchfly; White Paths; African Dream Root.

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Silene spp.

Botanical information

A sticky glandular perennial herb, up to 60 cm. with spathulate-oblong, up to 15 cm leaves in a basal rosette. Flowers are in lax terminals. Calyx cylindric, tubular, ribbed with dark, glandular veins. Petals white. Flowers are mostly seen with the petals rolled inwards during the day, but turgor returns in the cooler part of the evening and night. Capsule oblong-ovoid, opening by recurved valves to release several small round seeds.

Propagation is by seed sown into very well draining, sandy seeding mix. Silene capensis loves water, but will also suffer from root rot if drainage is less than perfect.

Propagation by division is possible, but not economical. Very susceptible to lawn grubs, frost and dehydration.

Traditional uses

Undela Ziimhlophe is one of several species used by african healers as an oneirogenic (dream inducer). These oneirogenics are part of a healing system called Ubulawu. The dreamstate is highly regarded in the healing process and as a way of connecting to ancestral spirits. Most ubulawu plants are very potent and have sideeffects so adhering to traditional preparation methods is paramount.

Undela Ziimhlophe is prepared by drying the root and grinding it to a fine powder. This is then mixed with water as required and agitated to produce a froth. Only the froth is consumed.

Neoshaman have developed an acceptable substitute method by adding 1g of the the powder to a 750ml or larger bottle filled quarter full with water. This is then shaken vigorously for few minutes and the froth is removed by squeezing the bottle. The remainder is put into the fridge for the next day, when the bottle is once again shaken and the froth removed for consumption. After a few days the material will no longer froth and a further 1g is added to the same bottle or a fresh bottle is started. Effects have been achieved by consuming the equivalent of 200mg of powder per day for several days. Significant dream states are supposed to occur after the third consecutive day of ingestion and can be maintained for a few more days by continuing consumption.

The main side effect of Undela Ziimhlophe is nausea or rather emesis. The herbal material has been suggested to have a very strong emetic action if taken as a powder, but rarely as froth. Several internet sites recommend the consumption of 200mg on an empty stomach and to not eat for at least an hour or until appetite returns. Several experimenters have noted no nausea from this method.

Traditional use of Silene capensis appears to be less cautious with the dosage. The froth produced from anything between half a teaspoon to a heaped tablespoon can be consumed at once just before bedtime for immediate effects. The sleep following the ingestion should be full of prophetic dreams and should provide answers to the questions one seeks.

We shall report about our own experiments on the forums shortly.


Little is known of the pharmacology of Silene capensis. Extensive traditional use indicates a wide margin of safety, but reporting of adverse effects may not be complete. The frothing indicates the presence of saponins and it is believed these might be responsible for the activity.

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