Maerua angolensis DC. (Capparaceae): A Review of its Medicinal Uses, Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Properties


Capparaceae, indigenous pharmacopeia, Maerua angolensis, traditional medicine.

How to Cite

Alfred Maroyi. (2020). Maerua angolensis DC. (Capparaceae): A Review of its Medicinal Uses, Phytochemistry and Pharmacological Properties. Journal of Pharmacy and Nutrition Sciences, 10(5), 247–256.


Maerua angolensis DC. is collected from the wild for its edible leaves and fruits, and is also used as a traditional medicine. This study is aimed at evaluating the ethnomedicinal uses, phytochemistry and pharmacological properties of M. angolensis. Results of the current study are based on data derived from several online databases such as Scopus, Google Scholar, PubMed and Science Direct, and pre-electronic sources such as scientific publications, books, dissertations, book chapters and journal articles. The articles published between 1960 and 2020 were used in this study. This study revealed that the aerial parts, bark, leaves, roots and stem bark infusion and/or decoction of M. angolensis are mainly used as a protective charm and ethnoveterinary medicine, and a traditional medicine for pain, cancer, fever, malaria, sores, wounds and gastro-intestinal problems. Phytochemical compounds identified from the species include alkaloids, amino acids, anthraquinones, betaines, cardiac glycosides, cyanidin, esters, fatty acids, flavonoids, glucosinolates, phenols, saponins, sterols, steroids, tannins and triperpenoids. Ethnopharmacological research revealed that M. angolensis extracts have acaricidal, anthelmintic, antibacterial, antifungal, antidiarrhoeal, anticonvulsant, anti-diabetic, antidepressant, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antinociceptive, anxiolytic, anti-urolithiatic, antiprotozoal, molluscicidal and nematicidal activities. There is need for extensive toxicological evaluations of crude extracts and compounds isolated from the species since M. angolensis contains potentially toxic compounds


Venter F, Venter J-A. Making the most of indigenous trees. Pretoria: Briza Publications; 2015.

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: AA Balkema; 1972.

Schmidt E, Lotter M, McCleland W. Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Johannesburg: Jacana Media; 2017.

Dharani N. Field guide to common trees and shrubs of East Africa. Cape Town: Struik Nature; 2019.

Wild H. Capparidaceae. In Exell AW, Wild H (Eds.), Flora Zambesiaca 1. London: Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations; 1960, pp. 194-245.

Elfers RA, Grahama DG, Dewolf P. Capparidaceae. In Hubbard CE, Milne-Redhead E (Eds.), Flora of Tropical East Africa. London: Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations; 1964, pp. 1-88.

Kers LE. Capparidaceae (Capparaceae). In Edwards S, et al. (Eds.), Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea vol. 2(1). Uppsala: Swedish Science Press; 2000, pp. 74-120.

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

Germishuizen G, Meyer NL. Plants of southern Africa: An annotated checklist. Pretoria: Strelitzia 14, National Botanical Institute; 2003.

Figueiredo E, Smith GF. Plants of Angola. Pretoria: Strelitzia 22, South African National Biodiversity Institute; 2008.

Van Wyk B, Van Wyk P. Field guide to trees of southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Nature; 2013.

Burkill HM. The useful plants of west tropical Africa. Richmond: Royal Botanical Garden, Kew; 1985.

Peters CR, O'Brien EM, Drummond RB. Edible wild plants of sub-Saharan Africa. Richmond: Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew; 1992.

Achigan-Dako EG, et al. Traditional vegetables in Benin: Diversity, distribution, ecology, agronomy and utilization. Porto-Novo: Institute National des Recherches Agricoles; 2010.

Teketay D, et al. Edible wild plants in Ethiopia. Addis Ababa: Addis Ababa University Press; 2010.

Tairo VE, et al. Nutritive and anti-nutritive qualities of mostly preferred edible woody plants in selected drylands of Iringa district, Tanzania. Pakistan J Nutr 2011; 10: 786-91.

Addis G, Asfaw Z, Woldu Z. The role of wild and semi-wild edible plants in household food sovereignty in Hamer and Konso communities, south Ethiopia. Ethnobot Res Appl 2013; 11: 251-71.

Ojelel S, et al. Wild edible plants used by communities in and around selected forest reserves of Teso-Karamoja region, Uganda. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2019; 15: 3.

Ramde-Tiendrebeogo A, et al. Menopause disorders and their treatment in traditional medicine in Burkina Faso. J Med Plants Res 2019; 13(18): 458-72.

Welcome AK, Van Wyk B-E. An inventory and analysis of the food plants of southern Africa. S Afr J Bot 2019; 122: 136-79.

Mabogo DEN. Ethnobotany of the Vhaven?a. MSc Dissertation. Pretoria: University of Pretoria; 1990.

Stilles D, Kassam A. An ethnobotanical study of Gabra plant use in Marsabit district, Kenya. J East Afr Nat History Soc Nat Museum 1991; 81: 14-37.

Bussmann RW. Ethnobotany of the Samburu of Mt. Nyiru, South Turkana, Kenya. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed 2006; 2: 35.

Osuga IM, et al. Potential nutritive value of selected browse species from Kenya using in vitro gas production technique and polyethylene glycol. Livestock Res Rural Develop 2006; 18: 12.

Ondiek J, Abdulrazak S, Njoka E. Chemical and mineral composition, in-vitro gas production, in-sacco degradation of selected indigenous Kenyan browses. Livestock Res Rural Develop 2010; 22: 2.

Njidda AA, Olatunji EA, Garba MG. In sacco and in vitro organic matter degradability (OMD) of selected semi arid browse forages. IOSR J Agr Vet Sci 2013; 3(2): 9-16.

Ouédraogo P, et al. Uses and vulnerability of ligneous species exploited by local population of northern Burkina Faso in their adaptation strategies to changing environments. Agr Food Sec 2017; 6: 15.

Salamula JB, et al. Camel forage variety in the Karamoja subregion, Uganda. Pastoralism Res Policy Pract 2017; 7: 8.

El-Kamali HH. Maerua angolensis DC. In Schmelzer GH, Gurib-Fakim A (Eds.), Plant resources of tropical Africa 11(2): Medicinal plants 2. Wageningen: Backhuys Publishers; 2013, pp. 160-2.

Tshisikhawe MP, Malunga G. Ethnobotanical profile of indigenous tree species protected within dryland agricultural farming system. Res Reviews J Agr Allied Sci 2017; 6(2): 15-21.

Hilonga S, et al. Trade of wild-harvested medicinal plant species in local markets of Tanzania and its implications for conservation. S Afr J Bot 2019; 122: 214-24.

Hedberg I, et al. Inventory of plants used in traditional medicine in Tanzania. I. Plants of the families Acanthaceae-Cucurbitaceae. J Ethnopharmacol 1982; 6: 29-60.

Neuwinger HD. Plants used for poison fishing in tropical Africa. Toxicon 2004; 44: 417-30.

Watt JM, Breyer-Brandwijk MG. The medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. London: E. and S. Livingstone Ltd; 1962.

Musa MS, et al. Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in the Blue Nile State, South-eastern Sudan. J Med Plants Res 2011; 5(17): 4287-97.

Ngulde SI, Sandabe UK, Hussaini IM. Ethnobotanical survey of anticancer plants in Askira/Uba local government area of Borno State, Nigeria. Afr J Pharm Pharmacol 2015; 9(5): 123-30.

Chhabra SC, Mahunnah RLA, Mshiu EN. Plants used in traditional medicine in eastern Tanzania. II. Angiosperms (Capparidaceae to Ebenaceae). J Ethnopharmacol 1989; 25: 339-59.

Miller GA, Morris M: Ethnoflora of the Soqotra Archipelago. Edinburgh: The Royal Botanic Garden; 2004.

N’do JY-P, et al. Ethnobotany and preliminary bioactivity investigation on hepatoprotective medicinal plants from the Mouhoun region of Burkina Faso. Int J Phytomed 2018; 10(2): 73-80.

Ngowi NJ. Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in Kondoa eroded area of central Tanzania. Int J Sci Basic Appl Res 2015; 21(1): 223-33.

Kokwaro JO. Medicinal plants of East Africa. Nairobi: University of Nairobi Press; 2009.

Abubakar MS, et al. The perception and practice of traditional medicine in the treatment of cancers and inflammations by the Hausa and Fulani tribes of Northern Nigeria. J Ethnopharmacol 2007; 111: 625-9.

Baldé AM, et al. Ethnobotanical survey, antimicrobial and anticomplement activities of Guinean medicinal plants traditionally used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases in Conakry and Dubreka. J Plant Sci 2015; 3: 11-19.

Okatch H, et al. Determination of potentially toxic heavy metals in traditionally used medicinal plants for HIV/AIDS opportunistic infections in Ngamiland district in northern Botswana. Analytica Chimica Acta 2012; 730: 42-8.

Danjuma MN, Darda’u H. An ethno-survey of medicinal trees of Kabobi village, northern Katsina, Nigeria. Academic Res Int 2013; 4(3): 174-83.

Singh D. Study on traditional medicinal flora of Argungu local government areas, Kebbi State, Nigeria, west Africa. Int J Modern Plant Animal Sci 2015; 3(1): 16-32.

Hedberg I, Staugård F. Traditional medicine in Botswana: Traditional medicinal plants. Gaborone: Ipelegeng Publishers; 1989.

Koopman A. Lightning birds and thunder trees. Natalia 2011; 41: 40-60.

Liengme CA. Plants used by the Tsonga people of Gazankulu. Bothalia 1981; 13: 501-18.

Wondimu T, Asfaw Z, Kelbessa E. Ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants around ‘Dheeraa’ town, Arsi Zone, Ethiopia. J Ethnopharmacol 2007; 112: 152-61.

Diallo D, et al. Wound healing plants in Mali, the Bamako region. An ethnobotanical survey and complement fixation of water extracts from selected plants. Pharmaceut Biol 2002; 40(2): 117-28.

Solomon A, et al. Antiurolithiatic activity of the leaf extracts of Maerua angolensis. Archives Pharm Pharmacol Res 2019; 2(2): 1-6.

Giday M, Ameni G. An ethnobotanical survey on plants of veterinary importance in two woredas of southern Tigray, northern Ethiopia. Sinet Ethiopian J Sci 2003; 26(2): 123-36.

Khalid H, et al. Gems from traditional north-African medicine: medicinal and aromatic plants from Sudan. Natural Prod Bioprospect 2012; 2: 92-103.

Luseba D, Tshisikhawe MP. Medicinal plants used in the treatment of livestock diseases in Vhembe region, Limpopo province, South Africa. J Med Plants Res 2013; 7(10): 593-601.

Fouche G, et al. Anthelmintic activity of acetone extracts from South African plants used on egg hatching of Haemonchus contortus. Onderstepoort J Vet Res 2016; 83(1): a1164.

Usman IS. Ethno-veterinary care amongst the nomadic Fulani herdsmen in southern zone of Adamawa State, Nigeria. J Animal Sci Vet Med 2016; 1(4): 108-17.

Fouche G, Eloff JN, Wellington K. Evaluation of South African plants with acaricide activity against ticks. Int J Pharmacol Pharmaceut Sci 2017; 11(6): 386-90.

Gebeyew K, et al. Indigenous medicinal uses, toxicity, and chemical composition of browsing plant used by camel in Ethiopia Somali Regional State: A survey. Trop Animal Health Prod 2020; 52: 1459-66.

Khan MR. Antimycoctic activity of some medicinal plants. Pharmaceut Biol 1999; 37(5): 346-50.

Adamu A, et al. Effect of aqueous methanolic stem-bark extract of Maerua angolensis DC on acute and sub-acute inflammations. Nigerian J Pharmaceut Sci 2007; 6(2): 1-6.

Magaji MG, et al. Preliminary gastro-intestinal studies on aqueous methanolic stem-bark extract of Maerua angolensis (Capparaceae). Nigerian J Pharmaceut Sci 2008; 7(1): 108-13.

Magaji MG, et al. Some neuropharmacological studies on hydroalcoholic extract of Maerua angolensis (Caparidaceae) in mice and chicks. Int J Pure Appl Sci 2009; 3: 14-21.

Mohammed A, et al. Effects of aqueous methanolic stem-bark of Maerua angolensis (Capparidaceae) extract on blood glucose levels of streptozocin-induced diabetic Wistar rats. Res J Pharmacol 2008; 1(4): 75-8.

Mothana RA, et al. Studies of the in vitro anticancer, antimicrobial and antioxidant potentials of selected Yemeni medicinal plants from the island Soqotra. BMC Compl Alt Med 2009; 9: 7.

Ayo RG, et al. Phytochemical screening and antimicrobial activity of three plants used in traditional medicine in Northern Nigeria. J Med Plants Res 2013; 7(5): 191-7.

Yusuf AS, et al. Phytochemical screening and antibacterial activity of Acalypha wilkesiana and Maerua angolensis. J Pharmaceut Chem Biol Sci 2017; 5(2):103-7.

Williams ET, Timothy N, Chika A. Phytochemical screening, elemental and proximate analysis of Maerua angolensis (Capparaceaea) stem bark. Int J Biochem Res Review 2019; 27(4): 1-10.

McLean WFH, Blunden G, Jewers K. Quaternary ammonium compounds in the Capparaceae. Biochem Syst Ecol 1996; 24(5): 427-34.

Meda NTR, et al. Antioxidant activity of phenolic and flavonoid fractions of Cleome gynandra and Maerua angolensis of Burkina Faso. J Appl Pharmaceut Sci 2013; 3(2): 36-42.

Malami I, et al. Anxiolytic, sedative and toxicological effect of hydromethanolic stem bark extract of Maerua angolensis DC. in Wister rats. Pakistan J Pharmaceut Sci 2014; 27(5): 1363-70.

Benneh CK, et al. Maerua angolensis DC. (Capparaceae) stem bark extract protects against pentylenetetrazole-induced oxidative stress and seizures in rats. Evidence-Based Compl Alt Med 2018; article ID 9684138.

Benneh CK, et al. Anxiolytic and antidepressant effects of Maerua angolensis DC. stem bark extract in mice. Depression Res Treatment 2018; article ID 1537371.

Ampadu FA, et al. Antipleuritic and vascular permeability inhibition of the ethyl acetate-petroleum ether stem bark extract of Maerua angolensis DC (Capparaceae) in murine. Int J Inflammation 2018; article ID 6123094.

Iliya H, et al. Antinociceptive activity of various solvent extracts of Maerua angolensis DC stem bark in rodents. Phytopharmacol 2014; 3(1): 1-8.

Iliya HA, Woode E. Evaluation of analgesic property of petroleum ether/ethyl acetate stem bark extract and fractions of Maerua angolensis in murine models of pain. J Appl Pharmaceut Sci 2014; 5: 91-102.

Iliya HA, et al. Maerua angolensis extract reduces allodynia and hyperalgesia in a mouse model of vincristine-induced peripheral neuropathy. J Appl Pharmaceut Sci 2016; 6 (5): 124-30.

Iliya H, et al. Analgesic activity and effect of Maerua angolensis stem bark extract and fractions on morphine dependence in mice. Pharma Innov J 2015; 4(2): 62-8.

Benneh CK, et al. Maerua angolensis stem bark extract reverses anxiety and related behaviours in zebrafish: Involvement of GABAergic and 5-HT systems. J Ethnopharmacol 2017; 207: 129-45.

Kyere-Davies G, et al. In vitro activity of selected Ghanaian medicinal plants against parasites: Giardia lamblia, Entamoeba histolytica and Naegleria fowleri. Afr J Pharm Pharmacol 2017; 11(23): 279-83.

Cepleanu F, et al. Screening of tropical medicinal plants for molluscicidal, larvicidal, fungicidal and cytotoxic activities and brine shrimp toxicity. Int J Pharmacog 1994; 32: 294-307.

Khosa MC, et al. Examine medicinal plants from South Africa for suppression of Meloidogyne incognita under glasshouse conditions. J Nematol 2020; 52: e2020-29.

Fouche G, et al. Acaricidal activity of the aqueous and hydroethanolic extracts of 15 South African plants against Rhipicephalus turanicus and their toxicity on human liver and kidney cells. Onderstepoort J Vet Res 2019; 86(1): a1665.

Creative Commons License

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

Copyright (c) 2020 Journal of Pharmacy and Nutrition Sciences