Strophantus gratus seeds, Ouabain, climbing oleander
Strophanthus gratus originates from West Africa. Strophanthus gratus is a climbing plant that gets up to 8 m high, sometimes even higher. Strophanthus may also grow as a shrub in culture. The seeds of this species are the source of Ouabain. Strophanthus gratus bears latex like all members of the Apocynaceae, the dogbane family, do. The leaves are elliptic and get 18 cm long and 9 cm wide. They are glossy and the venation is clearly visible. The petiole is purple. The flowers of Strophanthus gratus are actinomorphic and consist of five corolla leaves. The corolla leaves are slightly bent to the ground. The flower is beautiful purple to pink in the center. Also the white corolla leaves have a touch of rose, making them looking very beautiful and special. The main flowering time of Strophanthus gratus in Africa is in November and December. The fruit is a capsule that gets 40 cm long. The orange seeds have many hairs that are sometimes quite long.
The seeds contain the g- Strophanthin, a cardiac glycoside, which is like most cardiac glycosides very poisonous. Due to that one should handle the seeds with care. G-Strophanthin is identical to the substance Ouabain that is gained from the plants of the genus Acocanthera. The natives of Africa tell the story that the ghost of the lion told them that Strophanthus gratus is very poisonous and can be used for hunting. Since then they threatened their arrows with this substances before they went hunting. They hunted more effective doing so. Their prey got paralyzed and they were also able to hunt animals like elephants and other big animals. Until now one knows only one unidentified substance from the baobab that can be used as antidote.
Ouabain is used since the 20Th century in medicine. G-Strophanin what actually is the german name for Ouabain is mainly used for cardiac insufficiency and anticipatory anxiety. The substance was given via injection. Although several studies reported exceptionally positive results for treatment of cardiovascular diseases on orally administered Ouabain, it slowly dissapeared and was displaced by highly expensive pharmaceuticals with quite a lot of side effects but a much higher commercial benefit. Luckily Ouabain nowadays slowly comes back and has developed to a niche product for heart disease prevention and treatment with less negative side effects compared to the commonly available pharmaceuticals.Ouabain which some years ago still was a wasted opportunity to save heart patients, is not widespread yet but has a steady upwards tendency especially due to it's compatibility.
For cultivation of Strophanthus gratus the seeds should be put into constantly moist substrate and the surrounding temperature should be around 25°C. Then germination starts after just one to two month.
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