Mukundanyoka, Zanthoxylum chalybeum, or Knob wood is used as a traditional medicine. In Traditional Treatments, an extract from the trunk is ground, dried then crushed to power. This powder is used to cure Malaria, Blood Pressure, Diabetes and Toothaches.


Mukundanyoka (Zanthoxylum chalybeum) is a spiny deciduous shrub or tree up to 12 m high, with a rounded but open crown. It has compound leaves consisting usually of 3 to 5 pairs of shiny leaflets plus a terminal leaflet, with a strong citrus smell when crushed. The trunk has characteristic large, conical, woody knobs with sharp thorns. The fruit is spherical, about 5 mm in diameter, reddish-brown, splitting to allow the shiny black seeds to protrude. It is used throughout Eastern and Southern Africa for its aromatic leaves, shoots and fruits, which are used to make a variety of tea-like beverages and decoctions. It is also widely popular as a medicinal plant for humans and animals and is sometimes over-exploited for these properties. Its potential anti-plasmodial and anti-trypanosomal properties are currently being investigated. It also provides good firewood and hard durable timber.


Other common names are:

  • Kundanyoka knobwood,
  • Knob wood (English),
  • pupwechulu,
  • pupwe (Bemba),
  • ntaleyedungu (Luganda),
  • chipupa (Lunda),
  • mlunguchulu (Nyanja),
  • mukundanyoka (Shona),
  • mjafari (Swahili).



In September 2016, a study was carried out at the Midlands State University, to compare the antibacterial properties of elephantorrhiza elephantine (Muzezapasi) and zanthoxylum chalybeum (Mukundanyoka), against those of the commercial drug Azithromycin on escherichia coli.

Plant extracts were purchased, Azithromycin tablets were purchased, and escherichia coli bacteria were isolated from the University toilets.

The results concluded that the commercial drug was more effective than the unstandardized plant treatments. The two plants elephantorrhiza elephantine and zanthoxylum chalybeum have an insignificant difference in effectiveness maybe due to differences in active ingredients and mode of action on bacteria. Their dosages may be the same and should be in concentrations higher than 25% as their effectiveness is significant from that point going to higher concentrations. [2]

  1. Knob wood, Knob wood datasheet, Retrieved: 18 August 2020
  2. [ Comparative Study], MSU Abstract, Retrieved: 18 August 2020