Silene capensis, commonly known in Europe as African Dream Root or Gunpowder Root, is a psychoactive plant originating from the Eastern Cape of South Africa. It is a tender perennial that is very easy to grow and highly resilient to heat – although it does require vast amounts of water to thrive. The flowers of the plant have a very distinct fragrance, and are often described as being a blend of cloves, banana and jasmine. It is however the root of the plant that contains the psychoactive parts which induce vivid and sometimes lucid dreams.
The dream enhancing properties of the African dream root have been used in entheogenic practices for hundreds of years. The Xhosa people of South Africa use the root to communicate with their ancestors, asking for guidance and advice through dreams. The plant plays a significant role in the initiation ceremony of Xhosa shaman.
It is assumed that the psychoactive qualities of African dream root are caused by the triterpenoid saponins found within the root. Although they have minimal effect of the waking self, their effects can be profoundly felt when asleep.