CAPE MOUNTAIN SAGE

Latin Name:  Salvia Chamelaeagnea

Family: Lamiaceae

Common Indigenous Names: Rough Blue Sage (English), Bloublomsalie, Bergsalie (Afrikaans).

Plant: This highly fragrant shrubby perennial herb grows on the Western Cape coastline in sandy soil in stream beds, in sandy soil among rocks and in open fields. It has square stems, with slightly hairy green leaves, sometimes with toothed edges, and has pale purple blue and white flowers. It has a distinct sage-like fragrance that is a true hallmark of Cape fynbos.

 

Uses: In herbal form it has traditionally been used for coughs, colds, diarrhoea, abdominal cramps and indigestion, thanks to its antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. A tea is brewed from the leaves to treat female ailments.  A few drops of the essential oil makes a great expectorant when the steam is inhaled.

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • Old Cape sore throat & indigestion remedy

  • Burnt in huts after illness as disinfectant

 

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CAPE CHAMOMILE

Latin NameEriocephalus Punctulatus

FamilyAsteraceae

Common Indigenous Names: Kapokbos, Boegoekapok (Afrikaans)

PlantThis indigenous fynbos small multi-branched shrub has small needle-like

leaves and dense white flowers that become fluffy just before they set seed. The

generic name Eriocephalus is derived from the Greek words ‘erion’ meaning

wool  and ‘kephale’ meaning head, referring to the wooly fruiting heads, called  ‘kapok’ (snow) in Afrikaans. The azulenic compounds in the oil give it its deep blue colour. It grows in mountainous areas with winter rainfall from the Namaqualand down to the Western Cape, as well as in parts of the eastern Free State.

UsesThis is one of the finest Muti Medicines that can be inhaled to instil a sense of well-being. Its sedative qualities help with depression and stress-related ailments. It improves quality of sleep, particularly for over-stimulated minds and over- active emotions. It is believed to be useful during times of transition, such as during adolescence or both male and female menopause.

 

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • To invoke pleasant dreams

  • House disinfectant

  • Clear away evil spirits

  • Periods of transition

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AFRICAN BLUEGRASS

Latin Name:  Cymbopogon Validus

Family: Poaceae

Common Indigenous Names: Irwashu (Xhosa), Tamboekie (Afrikaans)

Plant: This aromatic grass grows in the high rainfall mountainous areas in the

eastern regions of South Africa. It is related to Lemon Grass (Cymbopogon

Citratusand Citronella (Cymbopogon Nardus) both of which are good insect repellents. Its green sheaths have blue hues and its botanical name alludes to its shape - Greek kumbe means 'boat' and pogon means 'bearded' or shape of the ducts.

Uses:  It is traditionally used for its anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial properties.

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • used as an anointing oil in holy rites

  • used to make traditional brooms

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KOUGA SNOWBUSH

Latin Name: Eriocephalus Tenuipes

Family:  Asteraceae

Common Indigenous Names for Snowbush : Wild Rosemary (English), Kapokbos, Wilde Roosmaryn (Afrikaans).

Plant: This indigenous Eriocephalus looks very similar to the Cape Snowbush and has similar properties, yet a distinctly different spicy fragrance, similar to Rosemary. The bushes or shrublets are evergreen, hard, thick and leathery, while some tend to be thorny with silky-greyish leaves.

 

Uses

No recorded medicinal uses have been found, however its fragrance would indicate that it has sedative properties.

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CAPE ROSE GERANIUM

Latin Name: Pelagonium Graveolens

FamilyGeraniaceae

Common Indigenous Names: Rose Geranium (English), Wildemalva (Afrikaans)

PlantThis aromatic shrub, indigenous to the Cape region of South Africa, is

cultivated extensively world-wide for its distinctive rose-like smell. It has upright stems with fleshy

leaves rich in aromatic compounds and clusters of lilac-pinkish flowers.

 

Uses: It is used mainly for its fragrant smell, however it is widely used as a calming oil to aid relaxation and help to relieve stress and anxiety. It is used extensively in herbal form as an anti-bacteriological ingredient in cough and cold remedies.

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • A mood elevator

  • Used for calming & relaxation

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CAPE SNOWBUSH

Latin Name: Eriocephalus Africanus

Family:  Asteraceae

Common Indigenous Names: Wild Rosemary (English), Kapokbos, Wilde Roosmaryn (Afrikaans).

PlantThis small multi-branched shrub has clusters of small hairy silver  leaves and dense white flowers and fluffy white seed tufts, hence the ‘snow’ (‘kapok’ – Afrikaans) name. It grows mainly in the Namaqualand, Western and Eastern Cape.

 

UsesIt has traditionally been used in herbal form as a diuretic to treat oedema and stomach ailments by the Khoi and early Cape settlers. It is believed to have sedative qualities, act as a relaxant and a mood enhancer when inhaled.

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • To stimulate hair growth

  • Letting go of negative emotions

  • Addictive personalities

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WHITE CAPE MAY

Latin Name: Coleonema Album

Family: Rutaceae

Common Indigenous Names: White Confetti Bush (English), Aasbossie, Kilpboegoe (Afrikaans).

Plant: This woody fynbos shrub has dense branches, small narrow sharp- tipped leaves and small single white flowers. It grows in the coastal Cape Peninsula region. 

 

Uses: Local fishermen gave it its Afrikaans name ‘aasbossie’ (‘bait bush’) because they rub their hands with the leaves to get rid of the strong smell of red bait. It is traditionally used as an insect repellent, especially for ants and mosquitoes. The essential oil is believed to have sedative qualities.

Quirky Indigenous Uses: 

Campers rub it into their bedding to repel insects

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AFRICAN LEMON BUSH

Latin Name: Lippia Javanica

Family: Verbenaceae

Common Indigenous Names: Fever  Tea/Lemon Bush/Cape Verbena (English), Musukudu, Bokhukhwane (Tswana), inZinziniba (Xhosa), umSuzwane (Zulu), Koorsbossie/Lemoenbossie (Afrikaans).

Plant: This erect woody shrub has small yellowish-white flowers that form heads on dense clusters. The hairy leaves have pronounced veins with a strong aromatic lemon smell. It grows in large parts of South Africa particularly on the East coast.

Uses: Known as Fever Tea, the plant has traditionally been used for a number of ailments. Most popularly for fever, persistent coughs, colds and chest ailments. In addition it is commonly used for skin rashes, head lice, stomach problems, headaches and to soothe sore muscles. It's strong fragrance makes it an effective insect repellent, particularly against moths and mosquitoes. 

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • Protection against dog bites, crocodiles and lightning

  • Cleanser after contact with a corpse

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CAPE GOLD HELICHRYSUM

Latin Name:  Helichrysum Splendidum

FamilyAsteraceae

Common Indigenous Names: Phefo-ea-loti, Toanae-moru (S.Sotho), Geel Sewejaartjie (Afrikaans).

Plant: This fast growing abundant evergreen grey, woolly shrub with its narrow leaf is found throughout South Africa on rocky slopes, mountain tops and in gullies. Its yellow flowers are common to all Helichrysums hence their name derived from the Greek - Helios (sun) Chrysos (gold), although the Splendidum variety are papery in nature.

 

Uses: It is an important plant in the local traditions where the smoke from the dried plant is used in ritual to invoke trance and to connect with the ancestors. Most Helichrysums have anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties and Spendidum is known for its anti-rheumatic properties. 

 Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • Rituals to invoke ancestors 

  • Clear spaces of negative energy

  • Fumigate sick rooms

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HONEY EVERLASTING HELICHRYSUM

Latin Name:  Helichrysum Patulum

Family: Asteraceae 

Common Indigenous Names: Honey Everlasting (English), Phefo (Sesotho), Impepho (isXhosa), Kooigoed (Afrikaans).

Plant: This small, rounded, soft aromatic shrublet has grey foliage with strongly honey-scented summer flowers. The top of the leaves are grey, covered with small soft hairs, while the underneath and stems are densely covered with white woolly hairs. Its fragrant flowers attract pollinating insects especially bees. It grows on sandy flats and coastal dunes and inland on south-facing, lower mountain slopes of the southern Western Cape. Its yellow flowers are common to all Helichrysums hence their name derived from the Greek Helios (sun) Chrysos (gold). The species' Latin name patulum means ‘spreading’ or ‘wide open’ referring to its growth habit.

Uses: It is traditionally used in herbal form for asthma, bladder infections, gynaecological disorders, backache, fatigue, stress hypertension, cardiac problems and influenza. Its strongly aromatic leaves can be used to keep insects and parasites away.

 Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • Smoke inhaled for headaches and to get rid of evil spirits

  • Used as bedding for people and livestock

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GREATER KAROO DUCKFOOT

Latin Name:  Pentzia Dentata

Family: Asteraceae

Common Indigenous Names: Greater Skaapkaroo, Duck's-footkaroo (English),  Grootskaapkaroo, Eendepootkaroo (Afrikaans).

Plant: This aromatic shrub has soft, grey foliage and clusters of yellow flowers with central florets that bloom from spring to summer. The leaves are flat and shaped like wedges, which gives it the distinct appearance of duck's feet. The upper surface of the leaves are toothed and covered with golden-brown hairs. Dentata refers to its toothed leaves. It grows widely from the Northern Cape, to Eastern and Western Cape in parts of dry fynbos in loam soil, often on dry stony hill slopes and in disturbed veld.

 

Uses: No recorded medicinal uses have been found, however its fragrance would indicate that it has mood elevating properties.

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CAPE LEMON GERANIUM

Latin Name:  Pelargonium Citronellum

Family: Geraniaceae

Common Indigenous Names: Lemon-scented Pelargonium, Malva (Afrikaans).

Plant: A highly fragrant bushy evergreen shrub that has strongly lemon-scented leaves and is herbaceous when young with a woody base. The flowers are pink-purple with dark markings on the two larger upper petals.It grows in a small area in the south-eastern part of the Western Cape. Pelargonium gets its name from the Greek pelargos, with the flower resembling the shape of a stork's beak. Citronellum refers to the chemical substance called citronella which produces its lemon scent, which is more pronounced in summer as the oil is volatile at higher temperatures.

 

Uses: It is used mainly for its fragrance in potpourris and as a culinary herb. It is a good companion plant to repel pests.

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • Flavouring in puddings

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CAPE BUCHU

Latin Name: Agathosma Betulina

 

FamilyRutaceae

Common Indigenous Names: Round-leaf Buchu (English), Buchu (Khoi), iBuchu (Xhosa), Boegoe (Afrikaans)

PlantThis indigenous shrub grows in fynbos habitats near streams on the lower slopes of the Western Cape mountains. It has rounded green leaves with visible oil glands along the edges, a distinctly reddish stem and beautiful white star-shaped flowers. 

Uses: It is one of the most popular local remedies, known as a tonic for physical wellbeing. Traditionally the leaves are steeped in a brandy tincture called ‘Boegoe-brandewyn’ for stomach ailments and for hangovers. Commonly used to stimulate urinary function, for kidney and urinary tract discomfort, symptomatic relief from gout and rheumatism and as an external application to wounds and bruises.

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • Elixir of youth

  • Anti-ageing

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AFRICAN WORMWOOD

Latin Name: Artemisia Afra

Family: Asteraceae​ 

Common Indigenous Names: Zengana (S Sotho), Lengana (Tswana), Umhlonyane (Xhosa), Mhlonyane (Zulu),  Wildeals, Alsem  (Afrikaans).

Plant: This soft aromatic multi-stemmed perennial shrub, with its soft greyish-green feathery leaves, is indigenous to the mountainous regions of South Africa and derives its name from the Greek goddess Artemis. 

 

Uses: One of the most well known and commonly used healing plants. With its antimicrobial and anti oxidative properties the leaves have been used to treat a broad range of ailments, ranging from coughs, colds, flu, fever, headaches; to gastritis, indigestion, flatulence, colic, poor appetite, intestinal worms, constipation and gout. The vapour, from the oil added to hot water, is inhaled to clear blocked nasal passages and ease a tight chest. It is widely used as a moth repellent and a natural insecticide spray. 

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • Leaves in socks for sweaty feet

  • Condiment with supposed magical properties

  • Used as a love charm

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SILVERBUSH EVERLASTING HELICHRYSUM

Latin Name:  Helichrysum Petiolare

Family: Asteraceae

Common Indigenous Names: Herbal/Bedding Helichrysum, Licorice plant (English), Imphepho (isXhosa), Kooigoed (Afrikaans).

Plant: This is one of the most abundantly available, well known and frequently used of the Helichrysums. Its dense roundish velvety silver foliage is covered in silver-grey hairs that prevent water loss, while its honey-scented leaves attract many pollinating insects, particularly bees. It occurs naturally in the Western and Eastern Cape. The name Helichrysum is derived from the Greek helios meaning 'sun' and chrysos meaning 'gold' while petiolare refers to long leaf stalks.

 

Uses: It has traditionally been used for coughs, colds and infections. An infusion of the leaves is used to treat asthma, chest problems and high blood pressure. The smoke of the burning leaves is inhaled as a pain reliever and the leaves are also widely used on wounds to prevent infection.

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • The leaves and flowers are used as bedding

  • Clear spaces of negative energy

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KAROO INCANA

Latin Name:  Pteronia Incana

Family: Asteraceae

Common Indigenous Names: Ash Bush (English), Asbossie, Kraakbos, Bloubos, Laventelbos (Afrikaans).

Plant: A dense low shrub that has highly fragrant light grey leaves. It grows in deep, silty soils that are often derived from shales, with leaves that are covered in woolly whitish hairs and single flower heads. It is the most well known of the 70 species of Pteronia, a genus of small woody shrubs from Southern Africa. It is endemic to South Africa and occurs all the way from East London in the Eastern Cape, throughout the Western Cape up to the Namibian border in the Northern Cape.

Uses: the plant has anti microbial and anti inflammatory properties and is used for respiratory infections. It has traditionally been used to treat influenza, fever, kidney ailments and backache. Inhaling steam with the essential oil acts as an expectorant.

 

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NAMIBIAN MYRRH

Latin Name:  Commiphora Wildii 

Family: Burseraceae

Common Names of Burseraceae: Corkwood, Commiphora; (English), Kanniedood (Afrikaans).

Plant: Myrrh is a natural amber-coloured gum resin extracted from small thorny trees, that has been used as a perfume, incense, and medicine throughout history. The resin is steam distilled to release the essential oil with its slightly woody spicy fragrance. The trees grow naturally in Northern Africa, the Middle East and Namibia. The Namibian myrrh comes from trees in the North Western Namibian desert where the resin is wild harvested.

Uses: Myrrh has traditionally been used for its anti bacterial and anti fungal properties, as well as an antiseptic in mouthwashes, gargles, toothpastes and for toothache. It is used topically for abrasions and minor skin ailments, bruises, aches and sprains. It is also used for indigestion, ulcers, colds, coughs, asthma, lung congestion and arthritic pain.

Quirky Uses:

  • It was used by the Egyptians in a sun-worshipping ritual and during mummification.

  • Greek soldiers were known to take a phial of Myrrh oil with them into battle, to stop bleeding wounds.

  • Used as a mood enhancer

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AFRICAN IMMORTELLE HELICHRYSUM

Latin Name:  Helichrysum Odoratissimum

FamilyAsteraceae

Common Indigenous Names: Imphepho (Xhosa, Zulu), Phefo, Towane (Sotho), Kooigoed (Khoisan, Afrikaans). 

PlantThis strongly aromatic bushy perrenial herb grows mainly along the coastal regions of South Africa. It has small hairy silvery green leaves with yellow cluster flowers, hence its name derived from the Greek - Helios (sun) Chrysos (gold). 

 

UsesIt is an important plant in the local folklore where the smoke is used in ritual to invoke trance and to connect with the ancestors. It is traditionally used for its sedative properties for insomnia, to relieve headaches and tension as well as for coughs, colds, fever and headaches. It is an effective fumigant that repels insects such as lice and mosquitos and other parasites.

Quirky Indigenous Uses:

  • Rituals to invoke ancestors 

  • Burnt inside houses to protect it from evil spirits

  • Clear spaces of negative energy

  • Fumigate sick rooms

  • Used as bedding to repel bed bugs

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