Costus afer is an evergreen Perennial growing to 4 m (13ft) by 4 m (13ft) at a fast rate. It is hardy to zone (UK) The flowers are pollinated by Insects. Suitable. The stem, seeds and rhizome contain several steroidal sapogenins, of which diosgenin is the most important one. The rhizome yields % diosgenin. Costus afer is commonly used as a medicinal plant throughout tropical Africa. An infusion of the inflorescence is taken to treat tachycardia. The same infusion or.

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Costus afer Ker Gawl. Email this to a friend Print Share on facebook Tweet this. Showing 0 of 0 comments. Costus afer 1, flowering shoot; 2, base of leaf with ligule; 3, bract with 2 flowers. Redrawn and adapted by Achmad Satiri Nurhaman. Costus afer Costus afer. Costus afer Costus afer x – 67k – jpg pagesperso-orange.

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Bush cane, ginger lily, spiral ginger En. Costus, gingembre spirale Afef.

Costus afer is found in the forest belt from Senegal east to Ethiopia and south to Tanzania, Malawi and Angola. It is often planted in home gardens for medicinal purposes. Costus afer is commonly used as a medicinal plant throughout tropical Africa.

An infusion of the inflorescence is taken to treat tachycardia. The same infusion or a rhizome infusion is taken to treat stomach complaints. A stem decoction, the mashed or chewed stem or the pounded fruit, sometimes mixed with sugar cane juice, are taken to treat cough, respiratory problems and a sore throat. The smoke of the dried stem is also inhaled to treat cough.

Leaf sap is used as eye drops to treat eye troubles and as nose drops to treat headache with vertigo, and in frictions to treat oedema and fever. Leaf sap or a rhizome decoction is taken to treat malaria. Stem sap is applied to treat urethral discharges, venereal diseases, jaundice and to prevent miscarriage. Stem sap is acid and rubefacient and burns on open wounds, but it is also anodyne and healing, and is applied to different skin ailments.

A stem decoction is widely taken to treat rheumatoid arthritis. An infusion of the dried aerial parts is taken to treat hypertension.

The powdered stems are used as an enema to treat worms and haemorrhoids. The pulped stems taken in water afrr strongly diuretic. Coxtus Nigeria the debarked stem is chewed to treat nausea and to quench thirst. A cold water extract of the stem is taken to treat small epileptic attacks. Rhizome cstus is applied to abscesses and ulcers to mature them, applied to teeth to cure toothache, and mixed with water it is taken to treat diarrhoea and amoebic dysentery. A rhizome decoction or the raw rhizome is taken to treat leprosy and venereal diseases.


In Gabon the stem sap is rubbed on the body to treat colic. In Togo Costus afer is sometimes cultivated for the stem bark which is used to make table mats and baskets. Experiments in Uganda to use it for making paper were successful. In DR Congo the stems are used in house construction. The coshus can be used to coagulate latex and is also used in skin nourishing creams. In West Africa Costus afer is used as a fodder for small ruminants and poultry and the leaves serve as a feed for snails.

Costus afer is widely used for ceremonial and religious purposes. The ocstus, seeds and rhizome of Costus afer contain several steroidal sapogenins, of which diosgenin is the most important one.

The rhizome yields 0. Diosgenin is a very important raw material used as a precursor in the synthesis of a number of steroidal drugs, including corticosteroids, costuus hormones, oral contraceptives and anabolic agents. The last compound showed an ability to potentiate in vitro cisplatin cytotoxicity in a human colon cancer cell line. Sesquiterpenoids were the most abundant group of volatile compounds in the essential oil of Costus afer leaves from western Nigeria, with sesquilavandulyl acetate The essential oil did not show any antimicrobial activity.

A papaverine-like alkaloid is found in the rhizome which causes relaxation of smooth muscle and is anti-spasmodic, diuretic and central nervous system depressant in tests in animals. The saponin fraction from the rhizomes and the methanolic leaf extract showed significant abortifacient activity in rats.

The chloroform and methanol extracts from the aerial parts showed a significant reduction of carrageenin-induced rat paw oedema. The methanol extract of the afeer showed significant topical anti-inflammatory activity in croton aldehyde-induced mouse ear oedema.

The chloroform extract ckstus all signs associated with adjuvant-induced polyarthritis in rats.

Costus afer – Useful Tropical Plants

The extracts delayed arachidonic acid and coztus oil-induced diarrhoea in rats. The aqueous extract of the leaves and stems showed significant antibacterial and amoebicidal activity in vitro.

The methanolic leaf extract showed significant cytotoxicity in the ccostus shrimp test. The same extract showed moderate local anaesthetic activity in guinea pig skin test, and contracted the guinea pig ileum in a concentration-dependent manner.

Diosgenin is mainly obtained from Dioscorea spp. Another species of which the seed contains high concentrations of diosgenin is fenugreek Trigonella foenum-graecum L. Perennial, rhizomatous herb up to 4 m tall. Inflorescence a very compact, terminal, conical spike 2. Flowers bisexual, zygomorphic, 3-merous; calyx tube 1.

Fruit an ellipsoid capsule c. Seeds black, with aril. Costus is pantropical and comprises about 70 species, of which about 40 species in tropical Costuss, about 25 in tropical Africa and about 5 in South-East Asia. The African Costus spp. Costus afer and Costus lucanusianus J. In Costus afer the inflorescence is cone-like, each bract covers 2 flowers and the corolla is white with a yellow throat, whereas in Costus lucanusianus the inflorescence is globose, each bract covers 1 flower and the corolla is white with a red lip and yellow throat.


In southern Nigeria Costus afer and Costus lucanusianus produce hybrids. An extract of the inflorescences and stems of all species is taken to treat cough and stomach complaints. Leaf and stem sap is used as eye drops to treat eye infections and as nose drops to cure headache, in frictions or a vapour bath to treat oedema and fever, or applied to treat urethral discharges, venereal diseases, jaundice and to prevent miscarriage.

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

Rhizome pulp is applied to abscesses, ulcers and Guinea worm to mature them. The rhizome decoction of Costus dubius is taken to treat epilepsy; it is also a diuretic and febrifuge.

The boiled leaves of Costus schlechteri are also applied to smallpox and are taken to treat diabetes. The rhizomes of Costus deistelii yield 0. Costus afer is a very vigorous grower. It flowers and fruits throughout the year, depending on the humidity of the soil. Costus afer occurs in moist localities in forest and forest edges, up to m altitude.

In southern Nigeria Costus afer is a weed in rice fields. In cultivation it requires a rich well-drained, moist soil 2 parts peat moss to 1 part loam to 1 part sharp sand.

It does well in partial shade to full sun. Costus afer can be propagated by seed, and also by stem cuttings or rhizome cuttings. The stems and rhizomes are cut into pieces 2. In Cameroon Costus afer is a host of the African root and tuber scale Stictococcus veyssierei.

Flora of Zimbabwe: Species information: Costus afer

The stems and rhizomes of Costus afer are harvested from the wild or from plants grown in home gardens whenever the need arises. In Ethiopia Costus afer is harvested on a large scale from the wild for medicinal purposes, resulting in diminishing numbers. As demand for medicinal plants rises, harvest rates also increase. The situation is further aggravated by habitat destruction caused by slash-and-burn, commercial logging and firewood collection.

Costus afer

In West and Central Africa, Costus afer remains cstus common species in forest undergrowth, and is not liable to genetic erosion. Costus afer is widely used as a medicinal plant in tropical Africa and several uses have afed confirmed by pharmacological tests, although no systematic evaluation of the active compounds of the different plant parts has been effected. The diosgenin content needs further study as well, especially because the content is higher than commercially grown diosgenin-producing Costus spp.

Costus afer has some value as an ornamental plant. Antibacterial activity of Costus afer. Investigations of the methanolic leaf extract of Costus afer Ker-Gawl for pharmacological activities in vitro and in vivo. Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea. The useful plants of West Tropical Africa.