Traditional Uses, Phytochemical and Pharmacological Properties of Dovyalis caffra


 Dovyalis caffra, Salicaceae, southern Africa, sustainable development, traditional knowledge.

How to Cite

Alfred Maroyi. (2018). Traditional Uses, Phytochemical and Pharmacological Properties of Dovyalis caffra . Journal of Pharmacy and Nutrition Sciences, 8(4), 230–238.


Dovyalis caffra is a valuable indigenous African fruit tree widely cultivated throughout the world. The species is also traditionally used as herbal medicine to treat and manage human and animal diseases. This study reviewed ethnobotanical uses, phytochemical and pharmacological properties of D. caffra. Relevant information on the uses, phytochemistry and pharmacological properties of D. caffra was collected from electronic scienti?c databases such as ScienceDirect, SciFinder, PubMed, Google Scholar, Medline, and SCOPUS. Pre-electronic literature search of conference papers, scientific articles, books, book chapters, dissertations and theses were carried out at the University library. Literature search revealed that D. caffra is used as herbal medicine for amenorrhoea, heart pains, malaria, pain, wounds and as ethnoveterinary medicine. Phytochemical compounds identified from the species include alkaloids, amino acids, fatty acids, flavonoids, hydoxybenzioic acids, hydroxycinnamic acids, hydroxyhydrocinnamic acid, hydroxyphenylacetic acids, organic acids, phenolics, steroids, terpenoids and volatile compounds. Pharmacological studies revealed that D. caffra extracts and compounds have antimicrobial, antioxidant, antischistosomal, nematicidal and cytotoxicity activities. There is need for detailed scientific investigations aimed at elucidating the chemical, nutritional and toxicological properties of D. caffra.


Steyn EMA, Van Wyk AE, Smith GF. Ovule-to-seed development in Dovyalis caffra (Salicaceae: Flacourtieae) with notes on the taxonomic significance of the extranucellar embryo sac. Bothalia 2005; 35(1): 101-8.

Sleumer H. A taxonomic revision of the genus Dovyalis E. Mey. ex Am. (Flacourtiaceae). Bot Jahrb 1972; 92: 64-89.

Van Wyk B-E. The potential of South African plants in the development of new food and beverage products. S Afr J Bot 2011; 77: 857-68.

De Beer T. Polyphenols, ascorbate and antioxidant capacity of the Kei apple. MSc Dissertation. Potchefstroom: North West University; 2006.

Loots D, van der Westhuizen FH, Jerling JF. Polyphenol composition and antioxidant activity of Kei-Apple (Dovyalis caffra) juice. J Agric Food Chem 2006; 54: 1271-6.

Van Wyk B-E, Gericke N. People’s plants: a guide to useful plants of southern Africa. Pretoria: Briza Publications; 2007.

Maroyi A. Diversity of use and local knowledge of wild and cultivated plants in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2017; 13: 43.

Maroyi A. Assessment of useful plants in the catchment area of the proposed Ntabelanga dam in the Eastern Cape province, South Africa. The Sci World J 2017; Vol 2017: Article ID 3763607.

Augustyn WA, Regnier T, et al. A preliminary study on the chemical characteristics of Kei apple (Dovyalis caffra), an undervalued South African fruit. S Afr J Bot 2018; 117: 268-75.

Mpai S, du Preez R, et al. Phytochemicals and nutritional composition in accessions of Kei-apple (Dovyalis caffra): southern African indigenous fruit. Food Chem 2018; 253: 37-45.

Taher MA, Tadros LK, Dawood DH. Phytochemical constituents, antioxidant activity and safety evaluation of Kei-apple fruit (Dovyalis caffra). Food Chem 2018; 265: 144-51.

Okole BN, Odhav B. Commercialisation of plants in Africa. S Afr J Bot 2004; 70(1): 109-15.

Palmer E, Pitman N. Trees of southern Africa covering all known indigenous species in the Republic of South Africa, South-West Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Cape Town: Balkema; 1972.

Palgrave MC. Keith Coates Palgrave trees of southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers; 2002.

Lubbe CS, Siebert SJ, Cilliers SS. Political legacy of South Africa affects the plant diversity patterns of urban domestic gardens along a socio-economic gradient. Sci Res Essays 2010; 5(19): 2900-10.

de Bruin F-M. Exploring the benefits and challenges of indigenous foods in an African context using a case study of community gardens in the Western Cape of South Africa. MSc dissertation. Stellenbosch: Stellenbosch University; 2018.

Van Wyk B, Van Wyk P. Field guide to trees of southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers; 1997.

Germishuizen G, Meyer NL, et al. A checklist of South African plants. Pretoria: Southern African Botanical Diversity Network; 2006.

Du Preez RJ, De Jager K, et al. Prelimary investigation into the potential for commercialization of indigenous fruits in rural communities: survey, fruit composition, propagation and product development. Proceedings of 2nd All Africa Horticulture Congress. ISHS Acta Horticultarae 1007, 2013; pp. 613-26.

Chinsamy M, Koitsiwe M. Traditional knowledge of medicinal and food plant uses for sustainable community livelihoods: a case of Batswana communities in South Africa. J Soc Sci 2016; 46(2): 146-54.

Arnold H-J, Gulumian M. Pharmacopoeia of traditional medicine in Venda. J Ethnopharmacol 1984; 12: 35-74.

Mabogo DEN. The ethnobotany of the Vhavenda. MSc dissertation. Pretoria: University of Pretoria; 1990.

Njoroge GN, Bussmann RW. Diversity and utilization of antimalarial ethnophytotherapeutic remedies among the Kikuyus (Central Kenya). J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2006; 2: 8.

Gakuubi MM, Wanzala W. A survey of plants and plant products traditionally used in livestock health management in Buuri district, Meru county, Kenya. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2012; 8: 39.

Hombarume J. The role of non-timber forest products in rural livelihood sustainability: the case of Manyanga Mountains, Dendenyore ward 7 in Wedza district. MSc dissertation. Bindura: Bindura University of Science Education; 2016.

Maroyi A. Exotic plants in indigenous pharmacopoeia of south-central Zimbabwe: traditional knowledge of herbal medicines. Res J Bot 2017; 12: 46-52.

Maroyi A. Ethnomedicinal uses of exotic plant species in south-central Zimbabwe. Indian J Trad Knowl 2018; 17(1): 71-7.

Semenya SS, Maroyi A. Exotics plants used therapeutically by Bapedi traditional healers for respiratory infections and related symptoms in the Limpopo province, South Africa. Indian J Trad Knowl 2018; 17: 663-71.

Lakhtib I, Ihihi A, et al. Study and valorization of Dovyalis caffra seeds. Asian J Engin Technol 2014; 2(6): 503-8.

Moustafa SMA, Mahmoud K, et al. Cytotoxicity against four cell lines of human cancer by the fractionated extract of Dovyalis caffra, exhibiting high oxylipin signature, and by jasmine oil. World J Pharmaceut Sci 2015; 3(3): 580-7.

Minnaar PP, Jollya NP, et al. Schizosaccharomyces pombe and Saccharomyces cerevisiae yeasts in sequential fermentations: effect on phenolic acids of fermented Kei-apple (Dovyalis caffra L.) juice. Int J Food Microbiol 2017; 257: 232-7.

Maobe MAG, Gitu L, et al. Phytochemical analysis of phenol and flavonoid in eight selected medicinal herbs used for the treatment of diabetes, malaria and pneumonia in Kisii, Kenya. Academic J Cancer Res 2012; 5(2): 31-9.

Abdel-Fattah AF, Zaki DA, Edrees M. Some investigations on the pectin and amino acid composition of Dovyalis caffra fruit. Plant Food Hum Nutr 1975; 24: 311-6.

Wehmeyer AS. The nutrient composition of some edible wild fruits found in the Transvaal. S Afr Med J 1966; 40(45): 1102-4.

Morton JF. Kei apple. In: Morton JF, editor. Fruits of warm climates. Miami: Creative Resources Systems 1987; pp. 315-19.

Sayed HM, Bishay DW, et al. 2000. Alkaloids from the leaves of Aberia caffra. Indian J Chem 39B: 215-19.

Stanstrup J, Rusch A-M, et al. Itoside A and 4-hydroxytremulacin from Dovyalis caffra and Dovyalis zeyheri. Biochem System Ecol 2010; 38: 346-8.

Zaki D. Biological investigation of Dovyalis caffra. Planta Medica 1975; 21(4): 330-2.

Basile A, Vuotto ML, et al. Antibacterial activity in Actinidia chinensis, Feijoa sellowiana and Aberia caffra. Int J Antimicrobial Agents 1997; 8: 199-203.

El-Zaher EHFA, Mahmoud YAG, El-Tatawy R. Inhibitory activity of the Dovyalis coffra fruit juice against Candida albicans, Malassezia furfur and Microsporum canis. Int J Agric Environ Biotechnol 2009; 2(4): 416-423.

Yousif F, Hifnawy MS, et al. Large-scale in vitro screening of Egyptian native and cultivated plants for Schistosomicidal activity. Pharmaceut Biol 2007; 45(6): 501-510.

Nyoni M, Muzemu S, et al. Screening indigenous nematicidal plants in Zimbabwe against Meloidogyne javanica. Paper presented at a conference held on the 14th-16th July 2015, Elephant Hills Resort, Victoria Fallls, Zimbabwe.

Moustafa MA, Menshawi BM, et al. Screening of some plants in Egypt for their cytotoxicity against four human cancer cell lines. Int J PharmTech Res 2014; 6(3): 1074-84.

Gomaa N, Youssef M, Zaki D. Some pharmacological studies on Dovyalis caffra W. fruit. Plant Food Hum Nutr 1973; 22: 277-84.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Copyright (c) 2018 Alfred Maroyi