Griffonia simplicifolia

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Griffonia simplicifolia

Family: Fabaceae


This plant is a climbing shrub. It can grow to as much as 3 meters in height and bears black seed pods.


The Griffonia simplicifolia plant grows wild in several regions of the African continent, including Central and West Africa.

Cultural value

5-HTP (5-Hydroxytryptophan) is a chemical by-product of the protein building block L-tryptophan. It is also produced commercially from the seeds of an African plant known as Griffonia simplicifolia 5-HTP is used for sleep disorders such as insomnia, depression, anxiety, migraine and tension-type headaches, fibromyalgia, obesity, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), seizure disorder, and Parkinson’s disease.

Locals only harvest a very small amount as they don’t use as much as the supplement and health world require. Additionally, they use the whole plant as medicine not just the seeds. They often chew the stems for tooth decay or to create an aphrodisiac effect. They use the leaves to treat constipation and sickness and the leaf sap as eye drops.

Growing Griffonia simplicifolia

In its native land the plant can grow approximately 144 shrubs to an acre which means on average they will harvest 432kg of Griffonia Simplicifolia for Health produce.

The best method of farming and harvesting the Griffonia Simplicifolia is on a 12 week cycle, this allows the plant to release its seeds, propagate, grow, flower and fully mature before its harvest. It also means that at any one point there will be plants at each stage of the process and the natives will never be without the plant to sell or for their own medical uses.