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How to Grow Griffonia Simplicifolia

Updated February 21, 2017

Griffonia simplicifolia is a plant native to Ghana, Liberia, Togo and the Ivory Coast. It is grown for its medicinal properties, which include mood enhancement, sleep assistance and reducing the appetite. Also known as 5-HTP, the properties in this plant are thought to increase serotonin levels. It has been used to treat depression, panic attacks and insomnia. It is a stout, climbing shrub with greenish flowers and black pods.

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  1. Prepare a section of your garden that is sunny to part shade. Clear away all sticks, stone and debris.

  2. Till the soil so that the roots of the plant will have adequate room to grow. You can use a shovel or a rototiller. The plant grows best in light- to medium-draining soil. Add fertiliser or compost to encourage healthy soil.

  3. Install a trellis. Since the plant can grow up to 9 feet tall, it will need adequate support. As the plant grows, guide it along the trellis. Griffonia simplicifolia is a very hardy, stout plant with woody vines but can still be guided along a trellis or wall. You may need to secure the plant to the trellis with twine. It grows well on steep slopes as well.

  4. Poke holes in the ground where you will be planting your seeds. Check the back of your seed packet to see how deep you should plant them. These seeds are very large, so follow the directions carefully. Plant large seeds 1 to 1 1/2 inches deep. Your seed packet will also tell you how far apart to space your plants.

  5. Water regularly. This plant requires moist soil, so you may have to water it more frequently than other plants. The pods that grow on the plant are the parts you will harvest for their medicinal properties.

  6. Tip

    Wait until 2 weeks after the last frost to plant this plant.


    Griffonia simplicifolia is drought resistant but sensitive to frost. Griffonia simplicifolia is best suited to warm climates.

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Things You'll Need

  • Shovel or rototiller
  • Griffonia simplicifolia seed packets
  • Compost
  • Fertiliser
  • Twine
  • Trellis

About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Crystal Huskey began writing in 2008 for various nonprofit organizations and news agencies. She now serves as the assistant editor for a hyper-local news site. Huskey is completing her Master of Arts in international relations at American Public University.

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