South African Medicinal Plants

© Marinda Louw
Wild Dagga is a South African medicinal plant.

South Africa is the third most biodiverse country in the world and inhabitants have for centuries employed the help of indigenous medicinal plants.

These healing plants treated all sorts of maladies including cancer, diabetes and tuberculosis (TB) as well as more benign complaints such as the common cold, arthritis, menstrual problems, stomach issues, to ward off lighting, evil powers and chase away mosquitoes and dogs.

In this section South Africa Online ® provides well-researched content on a variety of topics relating to South African Medicinal Plants, translated into all 11 official South African languages.

African Ginger Oil

African Ginger (Siphonochilus aethiopicus) is a popular Zulu herbal medicine that was believed to offer protection against snakes and lightn...more

Aloe Ferox

The versatile aloe is known for being the healing succulent. Its fleshy leaves hold nourishing properties that facilitate the healing and im...more

Anti-inflammatory African Potato

Not related to the household potato, the African wild potato (Hypoxis hemerocallidea) is associated with the lily and is a very hardy and dr...more

Baobab Tree

Benefits of Baobab and Baobab Oil. Baobab provides food, water and fibre but also have medicinal uses. Young leaves are used in cooking or t...more

Buchu Health Benefits

Buchu has long been described as a “miracle herb” and medicinal plant in South Africa, being used for centuries as a folk remedy or “b...more

Buchu Oil

Buchu (‘boegoe’ in Afrikaans) is a generic name for members of the aromatic Rutaceae family and is prized for its medicinal properties w...more

Bush Tea

Also called Bush tea (Eng.) Boesmanstee (Afr.), Icholocholo, itshelo, umthsanelo (isiZulu), Athrixia phylicoides with its soft dark green f...more

Camphor Bush

Camphor bush, Tarchonanthus camphoratus is also known as leleshwa, African wild sage or ‘vaalbos’ (Afrikaans). Camphor bush helps treat ...more

Can African Wormwood Cure Cancer?

Known as African wormwood or sagewood - Artemisia afra - is a highly aromatic plant. Used for its multitude of medicinal properties artemisi...more

Can Mongongo Nut Prevent Hair Loss?

Mongongo trees (Schinziophyton rautanenii), also known as manketti, are found in southern Africa especially in the deep sandy soils of the K...more

Cape Chamomile Oil is for Anti-inflammatory

Cape chamomile (Eriocephalus punctulatus) is one of the lesser-known ‘camomile’ plants used for its oils healing properties. Cape Chamom...more

Cape Rose Geranium for PMS

Cape rose geranium essential oil - Pelargonium capitatum x radens (rose) - is the preferred one of 700 varieties of cultivated geranium and ...more

Cape Snowbush

This small shrub with silver leaves and white flowers are called Eriocephalus africanus and is of the Asteraceae family. Named after the flu...more


Cannabis is most often associated with the high one gets from smoking the flower buds or resin of the plant. However, there is so much more ...more

Damask Rose Oil

Extracts of rose oil contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatories and are suitable for use on all skin types, including ...more

Devils Claw for Arthritis

The Southern African Khoisan and Bantu-speakers have used devil’s claw for indigestion, blood diseases, fevers, sprains and boils. Moder...more

Eucalyptus Oil for Mental Exhaustion

Eucalyptus was originally used by Aboriginal Australians for its antiseptic properties - healing wounds, fungal infections and also to break...more

Helichrysum Oil

Helichrysum essential oil has anti-inflammatory properties, which is ideal for tendonitis, tissue pain and rheumatism. It is also antifungal...more

Hoodia for Slimming?

Sought-after for its medicinal properties, curious-looking Hoodia gordonii is also called 'Bitter Ghaap', Kalahari cactus, ‘bokhorings’ ...more

Indigenous South African Plants as Natural Cosmetics

Many plants in South Africa - whether indigenous or naturalised - have been used as natural skin care or organic cosmetics by indigenous peo...more

Kalahari Melon Oil

Kalahari melon fruit is used by the San (Bushmen) people as a source of water, as well as a moisturiser and sunscreen. It is eaten by livest...more

Lippia Javanica Against Insects

Rich in a volatile oil with a lemon-like fragrance, Lippia Javanica repels insects and rodents. Grown commercially in South Africa for essen...more

Marula Oil - Rich Skin Hydrator

Marula oil is rich in essential fatty acids and its fine molecular structure is the key to its effectiveness as a skin hydrator and protecto...more

Medicinal Plants of South Africa

The potency of South African Medicinal Plants have been recognized by the international pharmacological, food and cosmetic industries and ar...more

Moringa - Miracle Medicine

Moringa is now considered a ‘super-food’. The powdered leaves, roots, bark and immature pods are used for its nutritional, anti-inflamm...more

Parsley Tree

Plants such as the parsley tree are valuable in this time of great societal stress where there is a great need for natural relaxing remedies...more

Pepperbark Tree - Endangered Medicine Plant

The bark and leaves of the pepper-bark tree contain various compounds with antibacterial, anti-fungicidal (particularly against Candida yeas...more

Pineapple Lily - Popular Traditional Medicine

The strange-looking pineapple lily is a striking bulbous plant resembling a flowering green pineapple. Native to South Africa, its yellow-gr...more

Psychoactive Plants

Many people ask why are psychoactive plants important to know about? Traditional medicine has hundreds of unexplored South African medicinal...more

Red Milkwood Fruit High in Vitamin C

Red milkwood (Mimusops zeyheri) is also called moepel, Mmupudu, umPushane, Nhlantswa and Mubululu and is native to Africa....more

Rooibos Tea is Proudly South African

Rooibos (Aspalathus linearis) is a shrubby legume indigenous to the mountains of the Western Cape and endemic to South Africa. The caffeine-...more

Sage Oil - Ancient Medicine

Sage (Salvia officinalis) is a perennial shrub with fragrant grey-green leaves about 60 cm high in the family of Labiatae/Lamiaceae. Sage wa...more

Sceletium Tortuosum - Traditional Mood Enhancer

This climbing or creeping plant - Sceletium tortuosum - has been known and used in South Africa for centuries. The Khoisan used the plant an...more

Sourplum as Medicinal Plant

The sourplum tree is also known as the wild plum or monkey plum. Benefits of Sourplum include helping treat nausea in pregnancy and it is ap...more

Sutherlandia Frutescens - Soothes Sickness

The ‘cure-all’ of South African plants, Sutherlandia frutescens is widely praised for its immune boosting, anti-viral and anti-inflammat...more

The Difference Between Lavender and Lavandin Oil

Lavender is a Mediterranean plant and not indigenous to South Africa, however, it is planted here and high-quality lavender oil is produced ...more

Use Pelargonium Sidoides for a Cold

Pelargonium sidoides has mildly aromatic velvety leaves and almost black flowers and is a well-known medicinal plant in South Africa. It has...more