Photo: © copyright
R.J. Hodgkiss 2009
Left: Mondia whitei (White's Ginger) is a vigorous woody, climbing vine with large veined heart-shaped leaves and a large white tuberous root, said to have an aroma of vanilla. Mondia whitei is widely distributed across tropical Africa, but has become rare through over-collection of the roots. It produces umbels of reddish flowers with greenish margins, and a perfume of sweaty socks. Although the flowers are short-lived, they are produced throughout the summer.
Mondia whitei has been used as a traditional remedy for numerous ailments including male infertility, as an aphrodisiac, and to make a digestive beverage similar to ginger beer. The seeds in the woody fruits are said to have been used to make arrow poison, so should be treated with caution.
The epiphet whitei commemorates a farmer, JS White from KwaZulu-Natal who originally sent roots of the plant to Kew.
Suitable as a vigorous climber for a frost-free garden or conservatory.