South African medicinal plants

Collection by Claire Grant


A collection of indigenous plants in South Africa that have medicinal properties.

Claire Grant
Plumbago auriculata is used traditionally to treat warts, broken bones and wounds. It is taken as a snuff for headaches and as an emetic to dispel bad dreams. Evergreen Shrubs, White Flowers, Plants, Garden, Evergreen, Medicinal Plants, Potted Plants, Flowers

Plumbago auriculata (Family: Plumbaginaceae)

An evergreen shrub with blue or white flowers. It can be used as a shrub, climber, pot plant, or groundcover.

Hypoxis hemerocallidea (African potato) has been used as a traditional medicine in South Africa and probably the best known muti plant in the country. Star Flower, Plants, Medicinal Plants, Fynbos, Perennials, Garden Plants

Hypoxis hemerocallidea (Family: Hypoxidaceae)

It is a beautiful tuberous perennial, synonymous with the grasslands, where its yellow star-like flowers herald the arrival of spring and summer rains. The star flower is a very attractive, hardy garden plant. It is excellent for a rockery or as a border to flower beds, but is also suitable for container planting.

 The stems are slightly succulent and the aromatic leaves are heart shaped and bright green in colour.

Tetradenia riparia (Family: Lamiaceae)

Perennial shrub with flowers ranging from white to lilac, sometimes pink. The stems are slightly succulent and the aromatic leaves are heart shaped and bright green in colour.

Colchicum capense contains the alkaloid colchicine which is used pharmaceutically to treat gout and Familial Mediterranean fever. Used medicinally by the Southern Sothos as ointment for the sore ears.

Colchicum capense ssp. ciliolatum (Family: Colchicaceae)

Stemless geophyte up to 0.1 m tall. The flowers are found at the base of the bract and are usually green-white.

Encephalartos friderici-guilielmi harvested for traditional medicine.

Encephalartos friderici-guilielmi (Family: Zamiaceae)

An attractive, stout stemmed species, the white-haired cycad may branch from the base, or alternatively produce just a single stem. Despite their woody appearance, like all cycads, the stems are mainly comprised of soft, pithy storage tissue protected by a hard layer of old leaf bases. As the stems grow in height, they tend to lean over to settle on the ground, with just the crown curving upwards.

Erythrina lysistemon Coral tree Native to South Africa Brisbane city Botanic Garden Planting Flowers, Ornamental Trees, Plants, City Botanic Gardens, Beautiful Flowers, Tree Seeds, Medicinal Plants, Flowers, Hummingbird Plants

Erythrina lysistemon (Family: Fabaceae)

A small to medium-sized, deciduous tree that grows up to 10 m in height. Produces beautiful scarlet flowers in early spring.

All parts of Pelargonium tomentosum are astringent. The fresh leaves are used externally as a poultice for bruises and sprains. Herbs, Plants, Garden, Leaves, Growing, Plant Leaves, Pelargonium, Medicinal Plants, Shrubs

Pelargonium tomentosum (Family: Geraniaceae)

low sprawling shrub with branches spreading in all directions. The presence of soft hairs and numerous glandular hairs, lends a velvety touch to the leaves and stems.

Carpobrotus edulis leaf juice is traditionally gargled to treat infections of the mouth and throat. It is also taken orally for dysentry, digestive troubles, tuberculosis and as a diuretic and styptic. The leaf pulp is highly astringent and is applied externally to treat eczema, wounds and burns. It is also said to be effective against toothache, earache and oral and vaginal thrush.

Carpobrotus edulis (Family: Mesembryanthemaceae)

This fleshy succulent is a perennial, mat-like creeper.

Tecoma capensis is a fantastic shrub or hedging bush. We have them in all sort of colours and they are very rewarding to grow.

Tecoma capensis (Family: Bignoniaceae)

Fast growing, scrambling shrub.

Drosera capensis extracts of the leaves were used externally for warts, corns and sunburn. Disorders such as tuberculosis, asthma, coughs, eye and ear infection, liver pain, morning sickness, stomach conditions, syphilis, toothache and intestinal problems were treated internally with teas or extracts made from the leaves.

Drosera capensis (Family: Droseraceae)

Free-flowering, robust, carnivorous, evergreen perennial, of varying height. The short, woody stems are rhizomatous below with well-developed roots.

Eriocephalus africanus is recommended in traditional practice as a diuretic for the treatment of oedema, as a remedy for gynaecological and gastric disorders, as a diaphoretic and haemostatic.

Eriocephalus africanus (Family: Asteraceae)

Twiggy shrub to 1m with tufts of narrow, sometimes forked, silvery-silky leaves. Bears small, flat-topped clusters of conspicuously radiate flowerheads at the branch tips, with blunt, white rays.

Watsonia tabularis grows from corms or division. We have hundreds of them, they can go quite crazy if you let them. But they're pretty and we love them.

Watsonia tabularis (Family: Iridaceae)

Beautiful and tough bulb that bears striking 1.2-1.5m tall stalks of arching, goblet shaped, peachy 65-75mm long blooms May to July.

Halleria lucida is used in traditional medicine for skin and ear complaints. Dry leaves are soaked in water and squeezed into the ear to relieve earache.

Halleria lucida (Family: Scrophulariaceae)

An evergreen tree or large shrub, often multi-stemmed, with a spreading crown and attractive glossy bright green foliage on arching and drooping branches. The flowers are tubular, orange to brick-red, or yellow, very rich in nectar. In the more exposed situations it is generally a stocky or shrubby tree that reaches a height of 2-5 m but in well watered, protected situations it can reach up to 12 m, and in forests, it can grow up to 20 m in height.

Cryptocarya wyliei concoctions and infusions of the bark are often used to treat headaches, urinary disorders, stomach complications, as well as emotional and nervous disorders. It is also said to be an effective remedy for treating infantile diarrhoea.

Cryptocarya wyliei (Family: Lauraceae)

A shrub or a small tree ranging from 2 to 6 m with a greyish stem. Gets small white flowers which develop into bright red fruit.

Leonotis nepetifolia leaves are brewed as a tea for fever, coughs, womb prolapse and malaria.

Leonotis nepetifolia (Family: Lamiaceae)

It grows to a height of 3 metres and has whorls of striking lipped flowers, that are most commonly orange, but can vary to red, white, and purple. It has very soft serrated leaves that can grow up to 4 inches wide.

Rauvolfia caffra is used to manage tumors and other diseases associated with oxidative stress. Pieces of bark are chewed to treat coughs. The latex is used to treat diarrhoea and other stomach ailments.

Rauvolfia caffra (Family: Apocynaceae)

An evergreen tree with a roundish crown. The bark is yellowish-brown, corked and cracked into small squares on older branches.