Top 10 List of Medicinal Plants in South Africa
What do you know about South Africa? Most people thought South Africa is a country so far away, the place where wild animals are live freely, very dry and vast expanse of nature. Well, those thoughts are actually true and South Africa also rich of fauna and some of them could not be found in any places in this world.
Where is South Africa?
The official name of South Africa is Republic of South Africa or also well known as RSA but most people know it as South Africa. South Africa is located in the south most of Africa and also the largest country in Southern Africa and the 25th largest country in the world. So, when people think that South Africa is a vast expense of nature is not a joke at all, this country is really big. Most regions in South Africa have temperate climate with varied topography, so some parts of Africa could be really dry due to its subtropical climate and there are also some regions that will be covered with snow between June and August. So, you could imagine how rich the fauna in this country will be and the list of medicinal plants in South Africa below may open your mind about how rich this country is and at the same time keep you wondering why the people of this country is very left behind when the country is very rich naturally.
Don’t mistaken wild malva with malva flower from family malvaceae because wild malva which is native to south-western Cape of South Africa comes from genus Pelargonium instead of Malva and member of family Geraniaceae, so this flowering plant is closer to geranium instead of malva. Among the locals, wild malva which has scientific name Pelargonium cucullatum is a popular garden plant, not only because of its beautiful purple and pink flowers but also due to its medical properties. The leaves and the flowers are edible, while the flowers are added to salad or baked, the leaves are well known due to its medicinal properties to treat soreness, wound for external use and for internal use, the leaves are excellent home remedy to stomach disorder.
Another plant comes from the same genus and family of wild malva is peppermint pelargonium which has botanical name Pelargonium tomentosum. The other name of this herbal plant is peppermint-scented pelargonium because the distinctive aromatic of the plant. The gem of this flowering plant is the leaves, though the leaves are edible, unlike wild malva, you cannot directly use or consume the leaves due to its hairiness. However, the leaves will be a great herbal tea because the combination of aromatic and mint flavor of the leaves could help treating sore throat. Just like the benefits of peppermint oil, this herbal plant is also commonly used by the locals as essential oil to treat bruises and sprains because it is very rich of astringent properties.
The South Africa’s climate is a perfect place for confetti bush to grow. The herbal plant which has scientific name Coleonema pulchellum is native to South Africa because this plant will grow optimally under a direct exposure of sun light and in well-drained soil condition. So, there is no better place for this plant to grow but in South Africa where sun shines very bright and the soil is very dry. The locals are adding confetti bush to their food just like people are adding thyme to their foods. The aromatic scent of this plant will give unique addition to the dishes. Furthermore, due to its aromatic scent, this herbal plant is also used as natural home deodorant by adding it to potpourri.
Wild sorrel is a beautiful spring flower commonly found in South Africa. This flower is very easy to grow to the dry soil of Africa. There are a lot of name of this flowering plant which has botanical name Oxalis pes-caprae and wild sorrel is only one of them, the others are like African wood-sorrel, cape-sorrel because it is native Western Cape, Bermuda buttercup. All parts of this flowering plant is edible especially the flowers and the leaves. Traditionally this plant has been used by those with diuretic problem due to its oxalic acid found in the plant. However, recent studies in Australia found that high dosage of oxalic acid may cause problem in the kidney including kidney stone.
African wormwood which has botanical name Artemesia afra is one of the important herbal plants in the list of medicinal plants in South Africa because this plant has been well known to be edible and very nutritious. There are a lot of types of this plant from genus Artemesia¸ the most popular ones are like Artemesia herba-alba or white wormwood which is native to Northern Africa and Ambrosia artemisiifolia which is native to America. This plant is closer to daisy family. The locals have been using this herbal plant to treat common conditions like fever, sore throat, headache, flu and even pneumonia just like the benefits of daisy flower extract, while the leaves could be used externally to treat soreness.
Num-num or Natal plum is native to South Africa with scientific name Carissa macrocarpa and part of the list of African fruits health benefits you should know. This tree is commonly found in Africa and very famous because this tree bears the edible beautiful berries which are very delicious. The fruit is very rich of pectin and vitamin C, so it is also a great source of antioxidants and excellent immunity booster. The fruit is traditionally made into jam by the locals. Though this fruit is native to Africa but right now, this fruit is commercially and cultivated in Florida and California because only in those regions which have tropical climate similar to Africa.
Wild garlic is flowering plant comes from the same family as the common garlic, Amaryllidaceae but comes from different genus. If the common garlic comes from genus Allium, wild garlic comes from genus Tulbaghia, so the botanical name of this plant is Tulbaghia violecae. The unique thing about this plant is all parts of this plant are very useful, the flowers are edible; the roots could be used as replacement of garlic and also could be made into tea to treat flu, light fever and sore throat, while the leaves could be used as insect repellent. The locals are planting this plant around the house in order to keep moles away from their house.
From the name, you may have guessed that this plant is closely related to jasmine. Well, there are a lot of species of jasmine you could find in this world and there are around ten species in Africa only. Jasminium multipartitum is among those ten species but why this species is standing out among the others are because of the unique appearance of the flower which has more petals than the other species of jasmine. Just like the other species of jasmine, this flower is an excellent home deodorant due to its wonderful scent while at the same time you could enjoy the health benefits of jasmine leaves as well as the flower because the flower will make a great addition to herbal tea.
Sour fig is ground-creeping fast-growing plant which has scientific name Carpobrotus edulis and native to South Western Cape, South Africa. The unique thing of this plant is the changing color of the flowers, initially you will find the yellow flowers but when they are aging, the color will turn into beutiful pink color. The color of the flower is also determining the flavor of the fruit, the fruits which are beared while the flowers are pink taste sweeter than the fruits beared while the colors are still yellow. The leaves of this plant have been used traditionally to treat sore throat, sunburn, rashes and even bee sting.
Aromatic sage has botanical name Salvia africana, so from the name you could have guessed that this flowering plant is native to Africa, especially from Cape Province, South Africa. The leaves are excellent herbs traditionally used by the locals as spices to be added to pasta, roasts and stew. For medical purposes, this flowering plant has been used to treat stomach problems, colds, cough and light fever similar to the health benefits of sage tea because by brewing the leaves and flowers you could make them into delicious scented herbal tea. The flowers of the plant are also edible in raw form and make it an excellent and beautiful addition to vegetables salad. This plant is also popular garden plant in Africa.
Well, the problem in South Africa is actually very complex; the vast expense of nature actually becomes one of the obstacles the local people should face because sometime the access to a region is not as easy as you think due to poor infrastructure. Though they are rich of flora and fauna which is proven by the list of medicinal plants in South Africa mentioned above, still what they need now is advanced knowledge to make the best use of the sources they have. Unfortunately, the exploitation without knowledge is also very dangerous. You must be surprised that there are some places in this world, where the people are so left behind, not only in education but also in medication. The high rate of mortality in Africa is not because of the diseases but much more about the lack of proper medication.