Galbulimima belgreveana - AgaraFAMILY: Himantandraceae

GENUS: Galbulimima

SPECIES: Belgraveana

COMMON NAMES: Agara, Kombe, Galbulimima

Galbulimima belgraveana is an unbuttressed tree that grows up to 90 feet in height. The bark is very aromatic, gray-brown in color, quite scaly, and about 1/2 inch thick. The leaves are elliptic and glossy, metallic green on the top, brown on the bottom, and about 6 inches long by 2 inches wide.  The flowers have many conspicuous stamens, and are pale yellow to brownish yellow. The fruit is reddish and about 2 cm in diameter. This tree grows in New Guinea, New Britain and Australia (Hofmann et al. 1992, 43).

TRADITIONAL USES: In Papua New Guinea, the bark and leaves of Galbulimima belgraveana are boiled  along with the leaves of Homalomena belgraveana and the root of Zingiber zerumbet to produce strong visions and powerful dreams. Psilocybe mushrooms are sometimes also consumed along with this mixture (Schultes & Hofmann 1995 cited in Ratsch 1998, 562). The leaves and bark are also consumed by warriors to give them strength before battle.  The Nopoko tribe uses its leaf to hold pigment when painting the face of male infants for their first initiation. The Gimi tribe chew the bark to enter a trance state to gain information regarding confusing situations or future events.  Interestingly, the effects of Homalomena belgraveana and G. belgraveana are said to be the same, either alone or when combined (Voogelbreinder 2009, 178).

TRADITIONAL PREPARATION: Indigenous tribes of Papua New Guinea boil the leaves and bark of G. belgraveana along with various other psychoactive plants for ritual use. Some also rub the bark on their legs in order to absorb the alkaloids of the plant through the skin (Voogelbreinder 2009, 178).

MEDICINAL USES: The Aseki tribe use the bark of G. belgraveana as an analgesic by chewing it, mixing it with salt, and then swallowing. This application relieves pain. The Oksapmin people shred the bark and mix it with wild ginger to treat diseases caused by witchcraft, particularly fevers, skin conditions, and poisoning (Bot 1922).

TRADITIONAL EFFECTS: 28 alkaloids have been isolated from G. belgraveana, but a specific psychoactive principle has not yet been identified. The chemical makeup of G. belgraveana varies from tree to tree, even those growing together. The main alkaloids that have been isolated include himbacine, himgravine, himbosine, himandrine, and himbadine, which have antispasmodic and hypotensive effects. Some other alkaloids found in the plants also had depressant effects.  The fruits contain an essential oil that smells similar to Juniperus, and traces of various alkaloids (Voogelbreinder 2009, 178).

The indigenous peoples who consume G. belgraveana report seeing visions of men and animals they are supposed to kill, and experiencing powerful dreams. One individual chewed 10 grams of dried, powdered G. belgraveana bark, swallowing it after ten minutes. After thirty minutes, reported effects included drowsiness, increased heart rate, concentration issues, and dizziness, followed by a very relaxed state, which eventually wore off with a mild euphoria after two hours (Hofmann et al. 1992).



Hofmann, A., Ratsch, C., Schultes, R., Plants of the Gods: Their Sacred, Healing, and Hallucinogenic Powers.  Rochester: Healing Arts Press, 1992.

Bot, J. Lond. 60:138 [Galbulimima belgraveana (F. Muell.) Sprague], 1922.

Voogelbreinder, Snu, Garden of Eden: The Shamanic Use of Psychoactive Flora and Fauna, and the Study of Consciousness. Snu Voogelbreinder, 2009.