Herbs & Plants

Xysmalobium undulatum

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Botanical Name :Xysmalobium undulatum
Family: Apocynaceae
Subfamily: Asclepiadoideae
Tribe: Asclepiadeae
Subtribe: Asclepiadinae
Genus: Xysmalobium
Species: Xysmalobium undulatum

Common Names: Uzara,cream cups (Eng.); bitterwortel (Afr.)

Habitat : Xysmalobium undulatum grows in the grassland and savanna of South Africa in Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North-West Provinces.

Pachycarpus schinzianus is a rough-textured, erect perennial herb 0.3 to 0.6 m tall that resprouts from an underground rootstock.
The leaves are simple, large, lanceolate and leathery, with rough hairs. They are up to 100 mm long, with wavy margins usually with a red or maroon edge.The flowers are large, cup-shaped , with recurved upper tips and are carried in clusters of about four on the tips of the branches. The flowers are cream-coloured to yellowish to pink. The corona always has a maroon blotch on the channelled inside…..CLICK & SEE THE PICTURES


The plants contain thick milky latex which is secreted wherever a plant is damaged; it contains a glycoside that is extremely bitter (hence the common name). Xysmalobium undulatum  blooms from September to February and is common throughout the grasslands of the highveld. The fruit is an inflated follicle which is usually solitary as a result of abortion after fertilization; it is spindle-shaped, 50–70 mm long, contains 5–7 lateral wings and is hairless. The fruit contains many brown seeds.

The seeds contain a tuft of hairs called a coma. It forms a parachute-like structure at the tip of the seed and is instrumental in the wind-dispersal syndrome exhibited by these plants.

Medicinal Uses;
Xysmalobium undulatum  is widely used in remedies for many ailments. The Manyika tribe uses it as a remedy against syphilis and to aid conception. Powdered root is a Dutch remedy for haemorrhoids. Concoctions of the roots have been used to treat dropsy, dysentery and even snakebite. The milky latex is rubbed on animal skins before they are set out to dry to prevent dogs from tearing them. Crushed leaves are also rubbed on the legs to repel dogs.

The rootstock is mixed with the pounded root of Xysmalobium undulatum to make Uzara medicine, which is used for diarrhoea, dysentery and to soothe after-birth cramps. It is also used as a tonic for the cardiovascular system. All parts are extremely bitter and are used in various decoctions and infusions as an emetic, diuretic and purgative. Zulu people use the roots for indigestion, malaria and other fevers (including typhoid fever). Xhosas use infusions of the root for colic and abdominal troubles and sniff the dried pounded roots to relieve headaches.

Browsed plants are frequently encountered in the wild. However, experiments have shown the plants to be poisonous to sheep and guinea-pigs, which died within one to two days after consuming the plants.

The native inhabitants of South Africa have long used the root of the xysmalobium undulatum plant to treat digestive complaints.   In the early 1900s it was first introduced as an antidiarrheal herband in Europe and now it is also commonly recommended for digestive cramps and irritable bowel syndrome today because of its spasmolytic effect.

The dried root of 2-3 year old plants is used internally for acute diarrhea by inhibiting the intestinal peristalsis..  With a rational treatment, xysmalobium undulatum stops diarrhea, pains and vomiting.  It is also used for afterbirth cramps, dysentery, stomach cramps, colic, edema, headaches, indigestion, and dysmenorrhea. Externally, xysmalobium undulatum root can be used in a poultice for treating sores and wounds.  The powdered root is snuffed by the Zulus for a sedative effect.

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


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Herbs & Plants

Aloe ferox

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Botanical Name : Aloe ferox
Family: Asphodelaceae
Genus: Aloe
Species: A. ferox
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Asparagales

Common Names :  Cape Aloe, Bitter Aloe, Red Aloe and Tap Aloe

Habitat :  Aloe ferox is   indigenous to South Africa’s Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, and Lesotho.

Aloe ferox can grow to 10 feet (3.0 m) in height, and can be found on rocky hills, in grassy fynbos and on the edges of the Karoo. The plants may differ physically from area to area due to local conditions.  Its leaves are thick and fleshy, arranged in rosettes, and have reddish-brown spines on the margins with smaller spines on the upper and lower surfaces. Its flowers are orange or red, and stand between 2 and 4 feet (0.61 and 1.2 m) above the leaves.

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Endengered  Precis:
Aloe ferox is listed on the plant list of endangered plants (CITES – Appendix II) along with other wild species of this genus.

Aloe Ferox plants are propaged mainly from seed and head cuttings. The plants are sowed one meter apart from each other in rows and colums. It takes about 4 to 5 years for the plants to reach the first harvest, from the seed stage. At the time of harvest, each leaf weighs about 1.5 kg to 2 kg. Aloe Ferox prefers dry-tropical climates, open areas, sandy-loamy soils, full sun, and moderate watering with good drainage system.

Medicinal uses:
Its leaves contain two juices; the yellow bitter sap is used as a laxative, and the white aloe gel is used in health drinks and skin care products.

The bitter yellow juice found just below the skin has been harvested for centuries for its laxative properties, the treatment of arthritis, for its healing properties and for use in cosmetics. The hard, black, resinous product is known as Cape aloes or aloe lump and is used mainly for its laxative properties but is also taken for arthritis.  Cape Aloe contains aloin, principally used as a purgative, particularly for sedentary or phlegmatic types.  Aloe tincture or extract is very gentle and slow-acting although too frequent use is said to induce piles.    It is also made into an ointment for mild skin rashes and a decoction of its juice acts as a mosquito repellent.

The home remedies with Aloe ferox is same as that of with Aloe vera.

*Cuts, wounds, burns, pimples and skin problems: apply the sap over the affected parts.

*Spleen disorders: intake a table spoon gel with a pinch of turmeric, twice a day, one hour after food.

*Indigestion, cancer, HIV/AIDS: intake a table spoon of fresh gel, twice a day, one hour after food.

*Constipation: mix the spoonful of gel in a cup of lukewarm water and take it one hour after dinner.

Aloe ferox has less demand that than of Aloe vera. The products of Aloe ferox are merely confined to South Africa, United States and few European Countries. Asian markets are mainly dominted by Aloe vera products.

Precaution: The sap is toxic to pregnant and breast feeding mothers.
(Taken in large doses, it can have a drastic effect, even causing abortion, so it should never be taken by pregnant women.)

Other Uses:
Cape aloe is sometimes blended with other bitter ingredients to flavor alcoholic drinks.

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


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