[raw-woo l-fee-uh, rou-]
  1. any tropical tree or shrub of the genus Rauwolfia, as R. serpentina, of India.
  2. an extract from the roots of the rauwolfia, R. serpentina, containing alkaloids the most important of which is reserpine: used in medicine chiefly for the treatment of hypertension and as a sedative.

Origin of rauwolfia

1745–55; < New Latin, named after L. Rauwolf, 16th-century German botanist; see -ia
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for rauwolfia


  1. any tropical tree or shrub of the apocynaceous genus Rauwolfia, esp R. serpentina of SE Asia
  2. the powdered root of R. serpentina : a source of various drugs, esp reserpine

Word Origin for rauwolfia

C19: New Latin, named after Leonhard Rauwolf (died 1596), German botanist
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012