: any of a genus (Rauvolfia synonym Rauwolfia) of tropical trees and shrubs of the dogbane family (Apocynaceae) that yield medicinal alkaloids (as reserpine)
: the dried root or an extract from the root of a rauwolfia (especially Rauvolfia serpentina of Asia) used chiefly in the treatment of hypertension
Biographical Note for RAUWOLFIA
Rau·wolf\ˈrau̇-ˌvȯlf\ , 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.