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Essential Medicinal Plants

Essential Medicinal Plants to grow


Peter von Maltitz


My thanks goes to the Phillip Kubukeli  

who introduced me to many of the South African indigenous plants and their uses.  

Since then I have continuously sought

more information and experience with them.

Phillip Kubukeli is a traditional healer

from Cala in the Eastern Cape

who always fostered cooperation among all the healers.  

He was living in the Western Cape in Macasa.

    ©  29 January 2011 -2022


The purpose of this booklet was to describe the identification, growth and use of a few medicinal plants, mainly indigenous, that can easily be grown in the Western Cape.  Most are frost resistant. With these in your garden you have remedies for a wide range of conditions at hand. Be aware that there are always individual sensitivities and allergies to any plant material, even to what most other people would call food. Test these plants on yourself individually in small quantities and on a small area of skin well before the need arises for  applying them vigorously.

They are beautiful, a joy to grow and a substitute for the pharmacy. Beside food security we also need medicinal plant security. Even if you do not know the details of treating with then, the fact that you can identify them and have them at hand means you can always phone for help from a herbalist.

Some of them are best used fresh such as the jell from the Bulbine on a small bleeding cut or the leaf juice of the sour fig for sore throats.  This is the way you have them in your garden, free of preservatives and without  requiring an use by date.

Table of Contents

Aloe arborescens —  —    Bos aalwyn,    Forest aloe,           Ingcelwane

Artemisia afra   —       — Wilde ales,        African Wormwood,  


Ballota africana  –           Kattekruid,        Cat bush,                         Isinazi

Bersama lucens                 Blink blaar wit essenhout                Isindiandia

Boophane disticha          Gifbol                                                              Ibati

Bulbine frutescens           Balsem kopiva,  nierbossie,  bulbinella,   Ibucu

Bulbine natalensis or

Bulbine latifolia –          Rooiwortel,        Bulbine             Matshetshafike

Carpobrotus edulis        Suurvy,              Sour fig,     Ikambhilamabulawo

Clauena anisata             Perdepis                                          Umnukambile

Curcuma longa                Borrie                                                      i-tumeric

Dodonaea angustifolia  Sandolien,         Sand olive  

Eucomis autumnalis       Pynappelblom                                 Umathunga

Geranium incanum  –    Vrouetee,           lady’s tea                 Uqhobelo

Gomphocarpus fruticosus    Tontelbos --- --                              Umsinga

Gunnera perpensa –       Rivierpampoen,  Wild rhubarb,     Tangazana


Helichrysum spp.  –        Kooigoed,          Everlastings,         Mphephu

Hypoxis                             Afrika aartapel                                    Ilabatega

Kniphofia  –                     Vuurpyl,                     Red hot poker,      Ixonja

Knowltonia vesicatoria   Katjie drieblaar                                      Vutusa

Leonotis leonotis  –         klip dagga,              Lions ears,  Inncafincane.

Lessertia  microphila      Langbeen gaansies, cancerbush/ sutherlandia,  


L            frutescens           Gaansies                                                Umnwele

Lippa javanica                Verkoue tee                                        Inzinziniba

Melianthus major/comosus   Kruidjie roer my nie,  Kobra Slangbos


Mentha  longifolia   –     balderjan,       Wild mint,                Inzinziniba

Pelargonium sidoides  – maagpynbossie,                            Umclealaabo

Pentanisia pruneloides    sooibrand bossie --                          Icimamlilo

Psoralea pinnata/affinis  Blou keur.                                   Umhlonitchwa

Ruta graveolens  –    –   wynruit,                 Rue.

Rumex crispus                Tongblaar --- --                       Indololenkonyane

Stoebe plumosa or  

Seriphium plumosum   – slangbos, Adderbos  --- –                      Inyoka

Tarchonensis               Wilde Kanfer --- –                                      Roselina

Urtica urens —–          – brandnetel,       small stinging nettle.

Warburgia salutaris       Peperbas                                                  Isibarha

Withania somnifera       Wilde apeliefie, Winter cherry,         Ubuvumba

Xymalobium undulatum       Bitterwortel --- --                           Ishongwe


Helichrisum petiolare       Kooigoed --- --       imphepho      Coastal local

Galenia africana               Oukraalbos --- --                             Karoo

Dodonea viscosa              sandolien --- --       muzuwe    Karoo mountains

Blou keur.  --- -- Psoralea pinnata/affinis umhlonitchwa  


            Bladder, water, fear , eczema conditions

Wilde alles   --- -- Artemisia afra   umhlonyane  


            Liver and gall conditions

Wilde dagga --- -- Leonotis leonoris/leonotis inncafincane  


           Heart conditions, arteries. Help mekaar.

Blink blaar wit essenhout  Bersama lucens   isindiandia      

           Old age

           Loss of focus and interest. Wisdom.

Peperbas --- -- Warburgia salutaris  isibarha  


          Inflamation and fever of many parts of the body

Perdepis  --- -- Clauena anisata  umnukambile   healer

          Very popular on south coast by the local women

Geneesblaar --- -- Withanea somnifera  ubuvumba  


          Activates reserve energy and great for colds

Sooibrand bossie -- Pentanisia pruneloides icimamlilo  


           Antacid of note. Blood quickly turns red again.

Wilde Kanfer -- -- Tarchonensis    roselina  

            Gentle caring power,

            For stroke,  also add wilde dagga and witgat boom leaves.

Afrika aartapel  -- Hypoxis   Ilabatega  

          corm kills amoeba

         roots kill virus

Gaansies --- -- Lessertia frutescens   umnwele  

          makes clever.

         Good outcome. Very good with Wilde dagga.

          Makes clever power.

Wynruit --- -- Ruta graveolens  

          High tension blood pressure.

          Dilates blood vessels esp arteries.

          Not for pregnant mothers!!!

        Spray tea from the leaves on bedsores.

         Can use locally for sprains to improve healing but

                      then you have to stabilise it with splint.

Tontelbos --- -- Gomphocarpus fruticosus umsinga   

          Infectious sexually transmitted diseases

Pynappelblom  -- Eucomis autumnalis  umathunga  

          healing wounds

Gifbol  --- -- Boophane disticha  ibati   

         Relief  for painful wounds

Vuurpyl  --- -- Knifofia   ixonja    

          Womb.  Cleans the uterus as tea of root

Rivierpampoen -- -- Gunnera perpensa    ugobho  

         Tones smooth muscles

       Good to prepare uterus by toning it.  

       Also good for migraines.

       Dosage important. 1 level teaspoon of dried powdered

                       stolon every two days is max dose.

Vrouebossie --- -- Geranium incanum  uqhobelo

       Regulation of  rhythm of menses   

Katjie drieblaar - -- Knowltonia vesicatoria vutusa   


Kobra Slangbos -- Melianthus comosus  Irhabiya  


       Prevents parylasis from Cobra poison

Adderbos  -- -- Seriphium plumosum  inyoka   

        Toxin block

      Blocks adhesion sites to prevent toxins breaking up cells

Verkoue tee -- -- Lippa javanica  inzinziniba  


Borrie  -- -- Curcuma longa   i-tumeric  

      acid neutraliser

    antacid, neutraliser.

      Stimulates immune system.

Tongblaar -- -- Rumex crispus   indololenkonyane body-soul glue

       Very good for kidney stones

         and healing dissociation from having used tik.

Balsem kopiva -- Bulbine frutescens  ibuchu   

        Closing intestinal leaky gut.

Bitterwortel -- -- Xymalobium undulatum ishongwe  



Kooigoed --- -- Helichrisum petiolare             imphepho  

          local blood cleanser

         Eliminates streptococcus and riketsia from blood

Oukraalbos --- -- Galenia africana     

         Dries lungs

        It dries out and reduces TB infection.

         It can damage the liver so the addition

                   of  wilde alles is required to be added to the mix.

        Found in Karoo

Sandolien   Dodonea viscosa v angustifolia.      Muzuwe          


        Very good against hay fever in many but not all cases.

         Found in Karoo

                              Some indicated plants

Abscess:  Datura stramonium leaves poultice external only.

Acid: Mentha,  Pentanisia prunelloides, elephant root cold tea.

Asthma: Melianthus bath. Hibiscus.

Bedsores: Daily Ruta tea sprayed on sores.

Bipolar: Melianthus bath

Burns: Aloe gel, Bulbine leaf gel,

Cancer: Fresh Sutherlandia tea, camphor, Castor oil external 2 x /day. Fennel internal.

Candida: Artemisia afra tea.

Colds and flu: Artemisia afra, Ballota, fennel,  Pelargonium sidoides, Sand olive. Sutherlandia, Withania, Leonotis

          Lippa javanica, Warburgia, African ginger.

Colds with cough: Artemisia & Balotta.

Cold with sinusitis:  stick of  witgat boom. Carve a few shavings off, boil in water, cool and get your helper to pour it into your nose while hanging your head backwards over the end of the bed.

Cold with post nasal drip: Alepidae (kalmoes)

Colitis: Bulbine gel internally and Melianthus bath.

Constipation: Bulbine

Dog bite: Melianthus poultice

Diabetes: Artemisia afra, Leonotis leonotis,  Berberine. Psoralea.

Diarrhoea: Adder Slangbos, Ishonwe.

Fertility: Female: Gunnera, Red hot poker.

                 Male: Bulbine natalensis, Leonotis.

Hay fever: Sand olive.

Headache: Gunnera - migraine, Vutusa - curse.  

Herpes: Urtica urens internal, Carpobrotus, Bulbine – external.

High blood pressure: Leonotis. Olive leaves steam.  Relax with sucking one leaflet only Rue.

Insect bites and stings: Carpobrotus, Pelargonium sidoides, Melianthus.

Kidney: Ballota leaf tea. Bitter bessie bos.

Rheumatic fever: Helichrysum tea, never more than two cups per day.

Rheumatism: Urtica urens, Stinkwood bark,  Boqho, yarrow, Aloe bitters.

Snake bite: cobra - Melianthus,

              adder: Stoebe plumosa,  Ballota

Stroke: Melianthus bath, Leonotis tea, witgat boom blare.

Sore throat: Sour fig leaves (Carpobrotus)

Tick bite fever: Helichrysum

Thrush Artemisia afra

Wounds: Withania leaves, Pelargonium sidoides roots, Pineapple flower bulb leaves as dressing. (Eucomis)

Other commonly used well known imported plants

Chamomile - brings agitation back into the digestion to digest the food

Dill, Fennel – dissolve phlegm, stops bloating.  

Camphor - warms

Eucalyptus oil under feet at night relaxes and let people sleep easily.

Caster oil – rub oil onto skin growths twice a day and see them crumble away.


There are several plants that can really help in childbirth.

If the child is lying in the wrong position and the mother is cold then a cup of Sutherlandia tea in the evening will help the child move during the relaxing stage of the mother.

If the child is definitely overdue, not more than one level teaspoon of dried Gunnera perpensa rhizome can be put into a cup of boiling water, allowed to draw and drunk. Do not repeat until after birth.  The first cup will help start the contractions even a day later by helping to tone the uterus. Once the contractions are working but the cervix is not dilating then one or two leaflets of Rue on the tongue will help the tendons to expand and the baby is easily released. After birth, a second cup of Gunnera will help shrink the uterus, expel the afterbirth and stop bleeding because the contraction will shrink the blood vessels of the uterus.

Important Mixtures

Oxygen  -   Warburgia & Pentanisia

Suurpens - Elephant root & Pentanisia

Clever Power - Leonotus & Lesertia

Lyfskoonmaak -  Helichrisum, Fennel seed, Lesertia, Gunnera stolons, Hypoxis corm, Artemisia afra, Ground Cloves.

Rumatiek -  Aloe bitters, Nettle leaves, Stinkwood bark, Boqho root, yarrow flowers.

For more plants see

Kirstenbosch walks