Herbs & Plants

Cucumis prophetarum

Botanical Name: Cucumis prophetarum
Family: Cucurbitaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Cucurbitales
Genus: Cucumis
Species:C. prophetarum

*Cucumis prophetarum subsp. dissectus (Naud.) Jeffrey
*Cucumis prophetarum subsp. prophetarum

*Cucumis prophetarum subsp. dissectus:
*Cucumis chrysocomus var. echinophorus (Naud.) Hiern
*Cucumis ficifolius var. dissectus (Naudin) Cogn.
*Cucumis figarei var. dissectus Naudin

Common Names: Wild Gourd, Wild Cucumber • Rajasthani: Khad-Kachar • Urdu: Kharchvit, Kharindroyan

Cucumis prophetarum is native to Mauritania east to the Horn of Africa and southwest to Angola, as well as northern South Africa, southern Mozambique, Comoros, and northern Egypt. It is also native to Israel, southern Lebanon, southern Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, and northwestern India. It has been introduced to Qatar.

It grows in semi-desert scrub; deciduous bushland and grassland; in tugs or on limestone slopes; dry Acacia bushland; open Acacia-Commiphora bushland and grassland; also in cultivated places from sea level to elevations of 2,010 metres.

Cucumis prophetarum is a dioecious and prostrate or climbing perennial vine. Its stems and leaves are hairy and the leaves are ovate to round in shape and cordate at the bases and measure 2–4 centimeters in length. They have 3–5 blunt-toothed lobes. Male flowers occur in clusters of 2–3 and are rarely solitary; female flowers are always solitary. They have five yellow petals. The fruit is slightly ovoid and is vertically striped and yellow in color when ripe. It measures 3–4 centimeters in length and is covered in spike-like pustules. It grows wild in semi-desert bushland and grassland up to 6594 feet (2010 meters) in elevation, often with acacia trees.


Cultivation: A plant of low to moderate elevations in the drier areas of the tropics. It grows in Tanzania in areas where the mean annual rainfall is in the range 600 – 1,300mm

Propagation: Through seeds.

Edible Uses: Fruits are eaten raw or cooked. Young fruits are sometimes eaten raw. The immature fruit can be pickled like a gherkin. The fully ripe fruit has a bitter flavour, but is sometimes boiled and eaten. Mature fruits can be cut into small slices, dried and then cooked as a vegetable after adding a paste of pounded groundnuts.

Leaves. The tender leaves are cooked and served with a staple. They are also dried in the sun, pounded and used as a vegetable paste with pounded groundnuts

Medicinal Uses:The bitter fruit is used as an emetic. It is used in folk medicine in Saudi Arabia to treat liver disorders and an extract from it has been proven to contain cytotoxicity against six cancer cell lines. Another extract from the fruit induces an anti-diabetic effect.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Herbs & Plants

Croton gratissimus

Botanical Name: Croton gratissimus
Family: Euphorbiaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Malpighiales
Genus: Croton
Species:C. gratissimus

Synonyms: Oxydectes gratissima

Common Names: Lavender croton, Lavender fever berry

Habitat: Croton gratissimus occurs in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan, Kenya, Uganda, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, the Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria, Angola, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the northern parts of South Africa. It is often found in rocky terrain.

Croton gratissimus is a deciduous multi-stemmed shrub up to 3 metres tall, or a slender tree with a ‘V’-shaped crown; it can grow up to 20 metres tall, but only up to 10 metres in the south of its range. It has a scaly bark and silvery leaves, rusty-scaly below, and has an attractive appearance. It is often planted in towns and villages. The crushed, slender-petioled leaves are pleasingly and distinctively fragrant with an aromatic oil reminiscent of sweet flag. The leaves are strikingly silver on the under surface and dotted with brown glands. The inflorescence is a yellow-flowered raceme up to 10 cm long and borne terminally. Rust-coloured flower buds, which are present throughout winter, open after the first rains. The fruit is a 3-lobed capsule, about 10 mm in diameter and densely scaly. The tree’s bark yields the toxalbumin crotin and the diterpene crotonin. CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES

Cultivation: Most Croton species are relatively indifferent to their habitat and can grow on a wide range of soils in both disturbed and undisturbed vegetation.

Propagation: Through Seed – best sown as soon as it is ripe in a sunny position in a nursery seedbed. Germination takes place within 20 – 30 days. When the seedlings are 5 – 6cm tall, pot them up into individual containers and they should be ready to plant out when 60cm tall.

Edible Uses: The fruits, like the bark, are aromatic. They are used to spice food. The seeds are used to flavour tea.

Medicinal Uses:
The bark-slash emits an aromatic smell. An infusion of the bark is used in cases of malaria.
The charred and powdered bark is used to treat bleeding gums.

The leaves are considered strengthening and vermifuge. A soup made of them is given to dysentery cases. A leaf-decoction is used as a wash, and is taken internally, for the treatment of dysentery, fever, convulsions, headache etc.

The shoots and roots are used as a tonic, febrifuge and for the relief of menstrual pain.

The root is used as an aperient.

The seeds are said to have medicinal use.

Examination of Nigerian material has shown the presence of a trace of alkaloid in the stem and leaf.

Other Uses:
The fruits, like the bark, are aromatic. They are used to prepare a sort of scent. The fruits are crushed and the pleasant-smelling powder used as a cosmetic.
An extract of the seeds is used as an ingredient in commercial cosmetic preparations as a skin conditioner.
The young branches are pleasantly aromatic; they can be dried and then powdered them to make a perfume.

The wood is pale yellow, fine-grained, hard and gives a good polish. The stems are used for hut-posts and beams, in default of other timber

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Herbs & Plants

Crinum macowanii

Botanical Name: Crinum macowanii
Family: Amaryllidaceae
Order: Asparagales
Genus: Crinum
Species:C. macowanii

*Crinum gouwsii Traub
*Crinum johnstonii Baker
*Crinum macowanii subsp. kalahariense L.S.Hannibal
*Crinum pedicellatum Pax

Common Names: River crinum, river lily, Common vlei-lily, Sabie crinum, Cape coast lily (Eng.); Rivierlelie, Boslelie, Sabielelie (Afr.); Intelezi (isiXhosa); Umduze (isiZulu)

Habitat : Crinum macowanii is native to most of east, central, and southern Africa. The plant occurs naturally in moist grassland, vlei, deciduous woodland, in hard, dry shale, sandy flats, or brackish to reddish clay soils, as well as along rivers and on the coast from 1000 to 2600 m above sea level.

Its continued existence is threatened by the unsustainable harvesting of the plant for its reputed medicinal properties.

Crinum macowanii is a deciduous bulbous plant with long, slender, bell-shaped, highly scented flowers which are white except for dark pink stripes.
The bulbs of this species vary greatly in size, being anywhere from 6 to 25 centimetres in diameter.

The flowers are large, bell-shaped, strongly sweet-scented white lilies with dark pink stripes, produced in umbels of 5 to 25 flowers on the tip of a long stalk, up to 1.1m tall. Flowering season is early summer (October to December). The fruit is a capsule of 3-6 irregularly shaped large (±20mm diameter) smooth, pale green to silvery, fleshy seeds or occasionally up to 20 small seeds.


Plant the bulbs, pointed end upwards, into the soil with the top of the bulbs slightly exposed. Water in well after planting and continue to water regularly throughout the season. Crinums often start to flower around August and last well into autumn.

Medicinal Uses:
Throughout much of Africa, the bulbs of Crinum macowanii are used for the treatment of a large number of conditions, with the roots and leaves having some, though far fewer, traditional uses.

Infusions of the bulb of the plant are used in Zimbabwe for the relief of back pain, as an emetic, and to increase lactation in both humans and animals.

The Zulu and Xhosa people make use of the plant for the treatment of bodily swelling, disorders of the urinary tract, and itchy rashes.

Various other ailments the treatment for which this plant is made use include acne, boils, diarrhea, fever, tuberculosis, and sexually transmitted infections.

The plant is also used in traditional veterinary medicine in South Africa.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Herbs & Plants

Crassocephalum rubens

Botanical Name:Crassocephalum rubens
Family: Asteraceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asterales
Tribe: Senecioneae
Genus: Crassocephalum
Species: C. biafrae

*Crassocephalum rubens
*Senecio rubens
*Crassocephalum cernuum
*Senecio sonchifolius
*Cacalia uniflora

Common Names: Yoruba bologi

Habitat: Crassocephalum rubens is native to Southwestern Nigeria, but also as far away as Yemen, South Africa, and islands of the Indian Ocean. It grows on open disturbed land in lowlands and montane situations.

Crassocephalum rubens is an annual herb 20–150 cm tall, erect; stems green striate with purple, densely to sparsely pubescent or setulose. Leaves sessile, obovate, oblanceolate, elliptic or lanceolate, rarely ovate, unlobed or (especially the upper) lyrato-pinnately or pinnately 2–8-lobed, 1.2–20 cm long, 0.5–7.5 cm wide, cuneate or attenuate into an exauriculate petioloid base or (especially the upper) sessile, margins remotely sinuate-denticulate to coarsely sinuate-serrate, apex rounded to obtuse or acute, scattered-pubescent at least on veins beneath. Capitula 1–8, long-stalked, usually at first nodding then ± erect, but sometimes erect throughout, discoid; stalks of the individual capitula ± pubescent and purplish-tinged; involucre cylindrical, 8–13 mm long, 2.5–8 mm in diameter; bract of calyculus 5–23, purplish or dark green with purple tips, lanceolate or narrowly lanceolate, 3–6(–8) mm long, glabrous or ciliate; phyllaries 13–25, commonly 21 or 13, pale green to green, often tinged purple especially towards the apex and purple-tipped, 7.5–12 mm long, glabrous or sparsely shortly pubescent. Disc florets blue, purple or mauve, less often pink or red; corolla 6.2–10.5 mm long, tube glabrous, gradually expanded in upper third, lobes 0.4–1.5 mm long. Achenes 2–2.5 mm long, ribbed, hairy or shortly so in the grooves; pappus 7–12 mm long.


Succeeds in subtropical and tropical climates at low to moderate elevations. It is found in areas with an annual rainfall of 1,000 – 1,600 mm.
The plant grows best in a well-drained soil with a high organic matter content. Prefers sandy loams. The plant requires support and shade and is often grown among cocoa trees.Removal of the flowering shoots encourages leaf production. In northern Sierra Leone two varieties are recognized and the leaves of both are eaten.

Propagation: Threough Seed – Stem cuttings 20 – 25 cm long, obtained from mature shoots. The plant is described as being an annual which, if true, makes this a rather strange method of propagation.

Edible Uses:
The whole young plant and the semi-succulent leaves are mucilaginous and are used as a pot-herb eaten in soups and sauces. They are especially relished when cooked with groundnuts and tomatoes. In some areas the leaves are said to cause stinging in the mouth and to be not well-liked.

Medicinal Uses:
The leaves are slightly laxative. They are used in traditional medicine to treat a range of complaints. They are given to women after childbirth for their laxative effect; they are used as a treatment for ‘belly palava’ (stomach-ache); when eaten in quantity they are used to treat liver-complaints; they are used as an infusion against colds.

Applied externally, they are made into a poultices to treat burns. The leaf-sap is applied to sore eyes and is also instilled into the eye to remove filaria parasites. They are crushed in water and rubbed into the ear to treat earache.

A trace of alkaloid has been reported present in the leaves.The powdered root has been used prepared as a paste for external application to breast-cancer in Nigeria.

Other Uses : Like garlic, the whole plant has repellent properties to crocodiles.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


Herbs & Plants

Cota tinctoria

Botanical Name: Cota tinctoria
Family: Asteraceae
Order: Asterales
Genus: Cota
Species: C. tinctoria

*Anthemis tinctoria L. (basionym)
*Anacyclus tinctorius (L.) Samp.
*Anthemis brachyglossa K.Koch
*Anthemis chrysantha Schur
*Anthemis coarctata Sm.
*Anthemis debilis Fed.

Common Names: Golden marguerite, Yellow chamomile, or Oxeye chamomile.

Habitat: Cota tinctoria is native to Europe, the Mediterranean and Western Asia and naturalized in scattered locations in North America.

Cota tinctoria is an erect, clump-forming, evergreen perennial plant with stems that branch near the base and can become more or less woody. The plant grows around 60cm tall.
The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and a dye. It was at one time often grown as a dye plant, though modern synthetic dyes have greatly reduced the use of this species. It is often grown as an ornamental, the plant is especially valued for its flowering display – there are several named varieties.
Human activity, especially the growing of cereals, has led to this plant being spread widely from its original range. As a weed of cereal fields, the seeds were often a contaminant of the grain and were sown where and when the grain was sown. Modern seed screening methods have greatly reduced the spread of this plant, though it has become established in many countries.


Cota tinctoria is a very hardy plant, tolerating winter temperatures down to about -15°c according in one report, or to about -25°c according to another. It dislikes hot, humid summers.

An easily grown plant, succeeding in a sunny position in most dry to medium soils so long as they are well-drained. It grows well on chalk, but does poorly and is short-lived when grown in heavy, clay soils. It is tolerant of drought and poor soils. Plants succeed in maritime gardens.

This species has formerly been cultivated as a dye plant, the var. ‘Kelawayi’ is said to be the best form.
Plants are often short-lived – they are apt to over-flower and exhaust themselves. It is best to remove the flowering stems as soon as they stop flowering in order to stimulate the production of basal shoots for the following year.

Seed – surface sow early spring in a greenhouse. Do not allow the soil to dry out. Light aids germination. The seed usually germinates in 2 weeks at 20°c. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and plant them out into their permanent positions in the summer.
Cuttings of soft wood early summer in a frame. Very easy.
Division in spring or autumn. Divide the plant every other year in order to maintain vigour.

Medicinal Uses:
The whole plant is antispasmodic, diaphoretic, emetic, emmenagogue and vesicant. It is used internally as a tea, which can be made either from the flowers or the whole plant.

Applied externally, it is used as a poultice on piles and can also be applied to the bath wate.The leaves are rubbed onto insect stings.

Other Uses: A distinctive yellow dye is obtained from the flowers.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.