Warburgia ugandensis is one of the ten species identified as high priority medicinal plants in Kenya for detailed study. Although locally common in some areas, the populations of this species have been wiped out in many areas due to the use of its bark by traditional healers for medicinal purposes against Asthma, Maralia and other ailments as well as skin cream.
Traditional medicinal plant species in Kenya were ranked according to utility value and sustainable use. Warburgia ugandensis was rated as second highest priority medicinal plant species in Kenya after Prunus Africana.
This tree species has a high pharmaceutical value both for humans and livestock, exhibiting a broad spectrum antimicrobial activity (Olila et al., 2001) with sequiterpene dialdehyde, warburganal (Haraguchi,1998), muzigadial and polygodial (Taniguchi and Kubo,1993). For instance in Kenya, as a painkiller and antimicrobial remedy,W. Ugandensis has been used to treat malaria, chest pains, toothache and manufacture of some skin creams in humans.
In animals a cytotoxic sesquiterpine, characterized as muzigadial, has been isolated fromW. Ugandensis against trypanosomiasis (Olilaet al., 2001) and it has been used widely to treat parasitic diseases (Kioyet al., 1990). To enhance biodiversity conservation, a deliberate effort has been geared towards conserving and sustainable use of W. Ugandensis both in-situ and ex-situ in Kenya.
The use of W. Ugandensis has already reached comercialisation scale in Kenya. There is therefore a need for an intensive cultivation programme to conserve it. Due to its medicinal importance, more people are growing them on their farms and it takes about 18 to 45 days to germinate and about 3 to 4 months for seedlings to be ready for planting in the field. Propagation through tissue culture of the species has been successfully done at the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) to support rapid multiplication of planting material. Through tissue culture, one explant is likely to produce over 100 plantlets in four months (Ms Wahu, KEFRI, personal communication, May 2006). Although propagation of the species is on the rise, there was a need to rightly advise the stakeholders
on which provenance would be effective in both active ingredients and site conditions.
This species, commonly used by the traditional practitioners in Kenya, has gained a lot of popularity.