Voacanga thouarsii is a tree growing up to 13 meters tall. The bole, which has branches from low-down, can be around 30cm in diameter It is sometimes stilt-rooted when growing in swampy ground
The tree is harvested from the wild, providing medicines and various commodities to the local population. The plant contains several medically active compounds, various parts of the plant being exported to pharmaceutical companies in Europe and elsewhere. The tree is also used in soil conservation programmes. The uses of Voacanga thouarsii are similar to those of Voacanga Africana Stapf. The latex or decoctions or infusions of the stem bark, leaves, and roots are applied to wounds, boils, and sores, and are used to treat gonorrhoea, eczema, fungal infections, and scabies. The infusions are also taken to treat heart problems, hypertension, and rheumatic afflictions. The latex is put in carious teeth as a temporary filling. In Tanzania the bark, roots, and seeds are used as medicine for stomach-ache, snakebites, and high blood pressure.
The wood is used in Liberia for hut posts and in Uganda for tool handles and sheaths for knives. The wood is also used as firewood and for making charcoal. The latex was formerly used to adulterate Hevea rubber. It is used as birdlime, e.g. in rice fields in Madagascar and as a glue for fastening handles to knife blades and to repair baskets. The wood is burnt in Sudan and Ghana to produce salt. The bark yields a fiber, which is used for making hunting nets in East Africa. Voacanga thouarsii is planted along watercourses for soil and water conservation. In France and Germany tabersonine is extracted from the seed, which is converted into vincamine, a compound widely used in Europe as a depressant of the central nervous system and for the treatment of cerebral vascular disorders in geriatric patients. Seeds are also exported to be used in medicines to treat heart diseases, to lower blood pressure, and to treat cancer.