Rauvolfia serpentina is an upright perennial shrub 20-60 cm in
height. The stem is green, erect, usually unbranched and slender.
Leaves are generally in whorls of 3-4, and more condensed in the
upper part of the stem, simple, glabrous, lanceolate or obovate. The
inflorescence is generally a terminal, dense flowered cyme forming a
hemispheric head on the ends of the peduncles. The flowers are whit
to pinkish in color. Fruits are drupaceous, sometimes single but
generally didymous, united halfway, oval, 4-5 mm long and 3-4 mm
broad. Ripe fruit is purple black in color. The seeds are single in
each fruit, oval, with a rough and dull surface.
The species is commonly found in open places or deciduous forests,
from lowlands up to 1200m a.s.l. Clayey to clay loam soil is most
suitable for good growth. Where the species grows in a natural state
the soil has a pH 4.
Medical use: Since ancient times, extracts from R. Serpentina have
been recommended for the treatment of a great variety of diseases.
The bark of the roots is commonly used as: febrifuge,anthelmintic,
antidote,sedative agent,hypotensive agent .
Decoctions of the leaves can also be applied externally to injuries,
ulcers and scabies. The latex is also used as a Trachome.
populations are usually found under stands of Tectonia grandis.