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n 1 a  cap  :  a large tropical genus of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae) of somewhat poisonous trees and shrubs yielding emetic and purgative substances  b  :  any plant of the genus Rauwolfia  2  :  a medicinal extract from the root of an Indian rauwolfia (Rauwolfia serpentina) used in the treatment of hypertension and mental disorders
Rau•wolf, Leonhard (1535-1596),
German botanist. Rauwolf is famous for his botanical studies in the Middle East. He began his outstanding collection of dried plants with specimens from southern France, Switzerland, and northern Italy. Then from 1573 to 1576 he traveled extensively in the Middle East to collect more specimens for his herbarium with the intention of exploring the potential of the local plants for their use as drugs. In 1582 he published an account of his travels and descriptions of the plants that he had collected. In 1703 the botanist Charles Plumier named the genus Rauwolfia in his honor.

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