Dodonaea viscosa var. angustifolia

Dodonaea viscosa var. angustifolia

Plant Uses & Benefits: firewood, insect repellent, medicine, phyto-remediation, pot plant


Common names: sand olive, iron tops (English); sandolien, ysterbos, ystertoppe (Afrikaans). 
Botanical name: Dodonaea viscosa var. angustifolia
Previously known as: Dodonaea angustifolia
Family: Sapindaceae

• Previously – Dodonaea angustifolia
• Etymology – viscosa meaning ‘sticky’
• Confusers –
• Others in genus – Dodonaea viscosa var. viscosa (found in Kwa-Zulu Natal)


Type: shrub, tree
Vegetation type:  
Flower colour: cream, pink
Flowering season: Autumn, Winter
Plant-animal interactions: 
Red list status: Least Concern

• Evergreen shrub or small tree up to 5m, fast growing
• Drought and wind resistant, frost hardy
• Leaves – narrow, long, droopy, shiny darker green topside, lighter green underside. Young shoots shiny and sticky due to resinous surface flavonoids.
• Flowers – small yellow-green, Autumn, Winter
• Fruits – paper wings, yellow, pink, red
• Roots – soil binding
• Habitat – sandy soils, arid to high rainfall areas, deserts to forest margins
• Distribution – Wide coastal distribution from Namaqualand, Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal, also found in Gauteng, North West, and Limpopo
• Plant-animal interactions – bird nesting sites, butterflies
• Common host plant for Viscum capense
Conservation Ecology
• Wide distribution, easily propagated, commonly cultivated.
• Red List – listed as Least Concern

Use as Medicine

Herbal traditions: Cape Herbal Medicine, Khoi & San
Plant parts used: growing tips, roots

• Khoi used roots for colds and flu
• Early Cape settlers used leaf tips to treat fevers

Safety & Toxicity

Safety: induces CYP450 enzyme

• Long history of use as medicine, suggests that it is safe for human consumption.
• Study showed ethanol extract induces CYP450 enzyme (CYP3A4)121

Qualities & Phytochemistry

Plant qualities: 
Phytochemical constituents: dodonic acid, hautriwaic acid, isokaempferide, kaempferol, kumatakenin, mkapwanin, pinocembrin, polysaccharides, rhamnocitrin, santin, sitosterol, stigmasterol, tannins

• Fragrance – grassy
• Taste – mild, green grass, drying
• Chemistry varies greatly with environment
• Terpenoids – diterpenoids, dodonic acid, hautriwaic acid
• Flavonoids – santin, isokaempferide, kaempferol, kumatakenin, mkapwanin, pinocembrin, rhamnocitrin
• Beta-sitosterol, stigmasterol
• Tannins
• Polysaccharides

Actions & Pharmacology

Plant actions: analgesic / anodyne, anthelmintic / vermifuge, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory, anti-pruritic, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antiplasmoidial, antiviral, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge / anti-pyretic, hypoglycaemic / anti-diabetic, insect repellent, nutritive, purgative, vulnerary

Actions & Pharmacology122
• A study in mice using methanol extract showed increased wound contracture, reduced healing time, and increased tensile strength.123
• Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus mutans, Enterococcus faecalis, E. coli, P. aeruginosa, Porphyromonas gingivalis, C. tropicalis
• In vitro study showing inhibitory effects on Candida albicans.128
• Study in mice showed extract 80% as effective as chloroquine in suppressing parasitaemia.129
• A study in rats and mice showed analgesic effect of Dodonaea angustifolia and Salvia africana-lutea.130
• A study in rats and mice showed antipyretic effect of Dodonaea angustifolia and Salvia africana-lutea.130
Astringent & Styptic


Plant preparations: balm, compress, cream, decoction, dried, gargle, plaster, powder, salve, tincture

Plant Parts Used
• Growing tips
• Leaves
• Decoction – boiled slowly, steeped, strained
• Gargle
• Powder
• Paste

First-Aid Indications

First-aid use: cold sores, eczema, rashes, stomach ache, thrush, toothache, wounds 

• Skin
o Wounds
o Itchy skin
o Rashes
o Herpes
• Digestion
o Toothache
o Stomach ailments
o Oral thrush
o Mild purgative
o Haemorrhoids
o Intestinal worms
• Respiratory
o Colds and flu
o Congestion
o Coughs
o Sore throats
o Fever
• Musculoskeletal
o Arthritis

Medical Indications

Medical use:  

Major Disorders
• Measles
• Pneumonia
• Tuberculosis
• Malaria
• Scurvy
• Scabies
• Kidney pain
• Liver ailments
• Skin cancers
• Internal cancers
• Lung cancer
• Breast cancer

Veterinary Indications

Medical use:  



Other Uses

Uses & Benefits: firewood, insect repellent, medicine, phyto-remediation, pot plant

• Insect repellent, insecticide
• Soil rehabilitation
• Wood for tool handles
• Firewood
• Can neutralise imphepho allergies

Cultivation & Harvest

Light-level: full sun
Soil type: sandy, well-drained
Soil pH: 
Propagation: seed

• Easy to grow
• Waterwise pioneer, soil stabiliser
• Soil – sandy, well-drained soil
• Light – full sun
• Water – waterwise once established
• Easy to propagate
• Seeds – propagates easily from seed, harvest in autumn and sow in spring.
Diseases & Pests