Help! Our income has dropped considerably for several months and unless it improves soon we will be in financial difficulty. More >>>

Follow Us:


Pausinystalia johimbe - (K.Schum.) Pierre

Common Name Yohimbe
Family Rubiaceae
USDA hardiness 10-12
Known Hazards The bark contains alkaloids that have medical applications at low doses but are toxic at larger doses[254 ]. Poisonous doses of the bark are reported to paralyze respiration and the drug can cause severe hypotension, abdominal distress and weakness[418 ]. The bark can also be used as a fish poison[418 ]
Habitats A middle-storey tree of forests[254 , 303 ]. Occurs mainly in closed canopy forest, most commonly in coastal forest, although not widespread throughout its range[418 ].
Range West tropical Africa - Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, DR Congo..
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Tender Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Pausinystalia johimbe Yohimbe
Pausinystalia johimbe Yohimbe
Destino Vemba

Translate this page:

You can translate the content of this page by selecting a language in the select box.


Pausinystalia johimbe or commonly known as Yohimbe is native to western and central Africa. It is evergreen and grows up to 30m tall with a straight bole that can be up to 60cm in diameter. The leaves are oval-shaped. The bark is gray to reddish-brown. Yohimbe is used medicinally as stimulant, anti-diuretic, hypotensive, and bitter herb. It has aphrodisiac effects and is hallucinogenic. In particular, it is used in the treatment of impotence, frigidity, and angina. The bark is also a source of tannins. The wood is used as firewood and construction material. There is no known edible use of this plant.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of cone
Pausinystalia johimbe is an evergreen Tree growing to 25 m (82ft) by 20 m (65ft) at a medium rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 10. Suitable for: medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.


Corynanthe johimbe K.Schum. Pausinystalia trillesii Beille Pausinystalia zenkeri W.Brandt


Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

The bark contains up to 6% of a mixture of indole alkaloids, the principle one being yohimbine (which is also known as aphrodine), plus pigments and tannins[254 , 418 ]. The alkaloids have a cerebral stimulant action at low doses, but are highly toxic in large doses[254 ]. Yohimbine has been shown to block the release of adrenalin and, in the correct dose, act as a sexual stimulant[238 ]. It is the source of the only clinically-proven cure for impotence and has long been used as a traditional stimulant in Africa[418 ]. Yohimbe is a bitter, warming, anti-diuretic, hypotensive and vasodilating herb with reputedly aphrodisiac effects[238 ]. It has a stimulant effect upon the heart, increasing heart rate and blood pressure; has a locally anaesthetic action similar to that of cocaine but without being mydriatic; is a mild stimulant that can help to prevent drowsiness; and is hallucinogenic. The vasodilating action of yohimbe is particularly strong on the sex organs, hence its aphrodisiac action[238 , 303 ]. The bark is taken internally, either as a powder or as a decoction. It is used particularly in the treatment of impotence, frigidity and angina[238 , 418 ]. It is also used as a performance enhancer for athletes, and as a remedy to increase the clarity of the voices of singers during long festivals[303 , 418 ]. The bark can be harvested at any time of the year[254 ]. The use of this herb is subject to legal restrictions in some countries[238 , 254 ].

Other Uses

Other Uses The bark is a source of tannins[418 ]. The inner bark is utilized as straps for panniers[303 ]. The tree produces very little sap-wood, the major fraction being an ocreous-yellow heart-wood[332 ]. The wood is flexible, so is widely used as a snare-trap mechanism, whilst the young poles are used for construction purposes in traditional buildings[303 ]. The wood is used as fuel[303 , 418 ].

Cultivation details

A plant of the humid, lowland tropics, where it is found at elevations up to 500 metres[418 ]. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature ranges between 22 - 28?c, but can succeed at 18 - 35?c[418 ]. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range of 2,000 - 4,000mm, but tolerates from 1,500 - 5,000mm[418 ]. Succeeds in full sun and in partial shade[418 ]. Grows best in a fertile, moist but well-drained, medium to heavy soil with high humidity[238 , 418 ]. Prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7, but can tolerate 5 - 7.5[418 ]. A fast growing tree but the bole never reaches a great diameter[303 ]. The species coppices well, producing strong, highly phototrophic shoots[303 ]. The bark is harvested as the source of the alkaloid yohimbine. The main stem gives the best material but is not rich in alkaloids until the tree is 15 - 20 years of age, by which time it can contain 2 - 15% yohimbine. Bark exploitation is a seasonal activity as the yohimbine levels are highest during the rainy season[303 ]. Although the trees callus well after a small amount of bark removal, removal of large quantities of bark can lead to an attack by a small stem borer which penetrates the unprotected stem, killing the tree[303 ].


Seed -

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Yohimbe, johimbe, yohimbe cortex, yohimbe tree, yohimbebaum, yohimbeh, yohimbehe cortex, yohimbeherinde, yohimbi, yohimbé.

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status : This taxon has not yet been assessed

Related Plants


Print Friendly and PDF

Expert comment


(K.Schum.) Pierre

Botanical References

Links / References

For a list of references used on this page please go here
A special thanks to Ken Fern for some of the information used on this page.

Readers comment

QR Code

What's this?

This is a QR code (short for Quick Response) which gives fast-track access to our website pages. QR Codes are barcodes that can be read by mobile phone (smartphone) cameras. This QR Code is unique to this page. All plant pages have their own unique code. For more information about QR Codes click here.

1. Copy and print the QR code to a plant label, poster, book, website, magazines, newspaper etc and even t-shirts.

2. Smartphone users scan the QR Code which automatically takes them to the webpage the QR Code came from.

3. Smartphone users quickly have information on a plant directly for the website on their phone.

Add a comment

If you have important information about this plant that may help other users please add a comment or link below. Only comments or links that are felt to be directly relevant to a plant will be included. If you think a comment/link or information contained on this page is inaccurate or misleading we would welcome your feedback at [email protected]. If you have questions about a plant please use the Forum on this website as we do not have the resources to answer questions ourselves.

* Please note: the comments by website users are not necessarily those held by PFAF and may give misleading or inaccurate information.

To leave a comment please Register or login here All comments need to be approved so will not appear immediately.

Subject : Pausinystalia johimbe  
All the information contained in these pages is Copyright (C) Plants For A Future, 1996-2012.
Plants For A Future is a charitable company limited by guarantee, registered in England and Wales. Charity No. 1057719, Company No. 3204567,
Web Design & Management
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. Some information cannot be used for commercial reasons or be modified (but some can). Please view the copyright link for more information.