Pausinystalia spp.


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Pausinystalia spp.

Botanical information

An evergreen tree, it grows to a height of 30m with a spread of 8m. The stem is erect and branching, the leaves are oval, acuminate and about 10cm long; the seeds are small winged slivers, almost paper thin.

A native of the rainforests of Nigeria, Cameroon and the Congo, it prefers rich soils in a protected part sun to shady position, and is drought and frost tender.

Propagation is by seed or cuttings, but so far all personal attempts at propagation from cuttings has been unsuccessful. Seed is sown in a free draining seed mix or sphagnum moss and will need temperatures above 25 deg C to germinate quickly. Seeds have a very short viability, which declines rapidly in dry and warm conditions.

Important conservation notice!!: This species is the only commercial source for the drug yohimbine. European and american pharmaceutical companies are purchasing hundreds of tonnes of bark every year, which comes from tens of thousands of mature trees. This is a rainforest tree of a population density of about 5 trees per hectare and it is almost at the verge of extinction in the wild due to poor government controls and lack of restraint by the pharmaceutical companies. The raw bark costs less than one US dollar per kilo from the harvesters and is resold in the west for the incredible profit of several thousand percent. Only one government has started to establish plantations, but they are still many years from producing the needed quantities. In the meantime the destruction goes on which will see this species virtually eliminated from its native habitat. We urge that anyone contemplating the purchase of any yohimbe product should make enquiries as to whether it is plantation grown. The environmetally responsible facade of the pharma companies is not to be trusted unless they clearly state that it is plantation sourced rather than the so called responsibly and sustainably harvested material. Our micropropagated strain is sourced from a research facility in Indonesia.

Traditional uses

Yohimbe is the only medically recognised natural aphrodisiac. Its use as an aphrodisiac in its native area has been well documented and its unique effects were soon valued in many parts of the world, especially in Europe. Less well documented is the use of yohimbe as a visionary plant in ceremonies like the iboga rituals (see Tabernanthe iboga). In modern times yohimbe products have found a wide market, ranging from medically treated impotence and self administered sexual enhancement to smart products like cloud9 (tm) and other herbal ecstacy formulations. It appears to have a very popular synergy with ephedrine containing herbs such as Ephedra sinica and Ephedra gerardiana.


There are several alkaloids in Pausinystalia yohimbe, but it is the yohimbine which is responsible for most of the recognised effects. Yohimbine is an indole alkaloid somewhat similar and related to ibogaine and mitragynine and is present in the bark of this species to between 2 and 15%. In small doses of less than 10mg yohimbine it is used medically as a therapy for impotence and frigidity. Recent research has also shown a lot of promise in the treatment of fatigue in HIV patients without any noticable side effects. Larger doses of 10-50 mg are used as an aid in tantric sexual rituals (especially with dita) and in combination with ephedrine as a party smart-drug. Yohimbine causes the dilation of bloodvessels in the lower abdomen which can cause long and very hard erections in men and genital stimulation in women. Dosages of 50-100 mg are hallucinogenic and highly stimulating. Dosages in excess of 50mg , and especially in excess of 100mg can be very unpleasant and even dangerous. Yohimbine has also been used to treat hypertension, and this effect may have serious consequences for people with already low bloodpressure, as fainting is common. On the other hand it can be used as a stimulant by people who cannot usually take most stimulants due to high bloodpressure.

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