Herbs & Plants

Warburgia salutaris

Botanical Name: Warburgia salutaris
Family: Canellaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Canellales
Genus: Warburgia
Species: W. salutaris

*Chibaca salutaris G.Bertol.
*Warburgia breyeri R.Pott

Common Names: Pepper-bark tree, Fever Plant, and Pepper Root Afrikaans: Peperbasboom, Sotho: Molaka, Venda: Mulanga, Zulu: Isibaha

Warburgia salutaris is native to Southern Africa – Zimbabwe, Mozambique, S. Africa. It grows on Savannah woodland, coastal forest and Afromontane forest. Lower rainforests, drier highland forest areas, and in secondary bushlands and grasslands at elevations from 1,000 – 2,000 metres.

Warburgia salutaris is an evergreen erect tree growing up to about ten metres in maximum height, but known to reach 20 metres at times. It has a dense and rounded crown, a thick canopy of aromatic, shiny green leaves. The evergreen leaf blades are lance-shaped, measuring up to 11 cm long by 3 wide. The flowers have ten yellow-green petals. They are each just under a centimeter long and are solitary or borne in small clusters of up to 3. The fruit is a berry, leathery purple or black in color when ripe, measuring up to 4 cm wide.


A plant of the tropics, where it is found at elevations from 1,000 – 2,200 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures are within the range 5 – 25°c, but can tolerate 10 – 35°c. The plant cannot tolerate frosts. It prefers a mean annual rainfall in the range 400 – 1,750mm, but tolerates 10 – 35mm. Requires a sunny position. Grows in well-drained soil, with good aeration. The soil should be rich in organic matter in the form of well-rotted compost. Prefers a pH in the range 5 – 7, tolerating 4.5 – 7.5. Established plants are moderately drought tolerant. A fairly slow-growing tree. Trees can be coppiced. The tree is aromatic, with a peppery aroma. This species has a symbiotic relationship with certain soil bacteria, these bacteria form nodules on the roots and fix atmospheric nitrogen. Some of this nitrogen is utilized by the growing plant but some can also be used by other plants growing nearby.

Seed – it has a very short viability and should be sown as soon as it is removed from the seed. Sow in a partially shaded position in a nursery seedbed. A germination rate of around 80% can be expected. Cuttings

Edible Uses: The leaves are used to flavour soups and curries. The leaves have a bitter, burning, aromatic taste. The leaves are used as a tea. The bark contains mannitol.

Medicinal Uses:
Warburgia salutaris tree is a widely used herbal remedy in southern Africa. The inner bark has many uses as a treatment for malaria, colds, chest pains, coughs, diarrhoea, muscle pains, stomach aches, and general body pains. The pepper-like, bitter stems and root bark are used to cure a wide range of ailments. They are used as an expectorant to treat the common cold. Taken orally are believed to cure spots in the lungs. Both stems and root bark are a remedy for malaria. Powdered and mixed with water, they are believed to cure sores in the mouth. Dried and ground, they are taken as a snuff to clear the sinuses.

Other Uses:
Agroforestry Uses: A suitable plant for growing as a hedge as it responds well to pruning. An attractive, dense hedge. The tree can be intercropped to provide shade in coffee, banana and cocoa plantations. The plant is nitrogen fixing and can be used for green manure and mulch. It also provides good shade. Other Uses A resin can be extracted from the bark. The bark is a source of tannins. The heartwood is dark yellowish-brown; the sapwood light yellow. The wood is oily, aromatic, and pale, darkening with exposure to the air. It saws and polishes well but is not durable. It is occasionally used for construction, furniture and tools. The wood is used for fuel and to make charcoal.

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.


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