Indigenous plants used in meating

Indigenous plants

Some information on the plants we use in ingredients.

Wild cucumber

Wild cucumber

The fresh young leaves are eaten as a pot herb by many rural people. Arnold et al. (1985) found that the leaves are rich in calcium, iron, nicotinic acid and vitamin C. The fruits have an overall nutrient composition slightly better than that of the cucumber and is sought after as a water source by the Khoisan of the Kalahari and in other dry areas. R.Marloth, the famous South African botanist, noted on his specimen no. 10040 (now in the National Herbarium), that he bought agurkies in a shop in Cape Town in January 1921. He found the flavour slightly acid and the odour of the pulp like real cucumbers.

The non-bitter fruits of C. africanus have been pickled and preserved at the Cape since the late 17th century. Recipes for these delicacies are found in several publications e.g. Rood (1994). The same recipes can be used for the cultivated West Indian gherkin, C. anguria var. anguria. This plant was taken by slaves from West Africa to the West Indies where it was domesticated. The genus name Cucumis is the Latin name for the cucumber which was already cultivated in Ancient Egypt. Cucumis is a genus of 32 species, indigenous mainly to Africa, also Asia, Australia and some islands in the Pacific. It includes two major commercial vegetable crops: C. sativus (cucumbers from Asia) and C. melo (melons from Africa and Australasia), and two minor ones: the West Indian gherkin (C. anguria) and the kiwano (C. metuliferus). These last two species became cultivated crops outside their native Africa.

The species name africanus refers to the natural distribution area of this plant. C. hookeri Naudin is regarded as a synonym of C. africanus.




Die spesie het 'n uitgestrekte (maar smal) verspreiding in die westelike dele van Suid-Afrika, van die grens met Namibië (die Richtersveld), deur die Namakwaland en westelike Groot Karoo, af tot by die Worcester-area in die Robertson Karoo en van Bredasdorp tot by Uniondale.[2]

Die spekboom (Portulacaria afra) is 'n vetplant met kleinerige blare. Dit kom algemeen in die ooste van Suid-Afrika voor. Dit word ook in die Karoo van die Oos- en Wes-Kaap aangetref.

Die spekboom is immergroen en word ongeveer 2,5 meter hoog. Die stam, wat tot 20 cm dik word, het 'n kurkagtige voorkoms. Die blare is helder groen, vleserig en eiervormig. Soos die boom ouer word, word die blare gelerig.

Olifante vreet graag die boonste blare van die boom, wat veroorsaak dat dit horisontaal uitsit. Vir dié rede staan die boom ook as olifantskos bekend. Die olifante in die Oos-Kaap, insluitende dié in die Addo-Olifant Nasionale Park, kan tot 200 kg spekboomblare per dag vreet.

Spekboom is in staat om groot hoeveelhede koolstofdioksied uit die lug te neem en in suurstof en koolstof om te skakel. Een hektaar spekboom kan gemiddeld 4,2 ton koolstofdioksied per jaar na suurstof en koolstof omskakel. In die opsig is spekboom tot 10 keer meer effektief per hektaar as 'n tropiese reënwoud.

Die blare van die spekboom kan deur mense geëet word. Dit kan in tye van nood as 'n voedselbron aangewend word en is ook geskik vir gebruik in slaaie. Die blare het 'n effens suur, suurlemoenagtige smaak.[1]

Cancer bush

Cancer bush

Medicinal use.

Increases body's ability to adapt to environment, resistance to disease and stress.

Changes coarse of an illness into favourable outcome.

Supports immune system against chronic diseases and immune deficiency diseases.

Reduces wasting from cancer.

Supportive treatment toTB and Aids.

Stimulates appetite in severely ill and emaciated patients.

Helps to gain weight - people in good health does not gain weight.

Type 2 dibetes - regulates and stabilises blood sugar levels.

Treat viral hepatitis, bronchitis, flu, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, peptic ulcers, liver conditions, urinary tract conditions, stress and anxiety.

Topically: burns, wounds and inflammatory skin conditions.

Daily dose: 1 - 2 g dried herb.

Wild cucumber


Haaskos (Anacampseros lanceolata (Haw.) Sweet) is 'n vetplantjie wat endemies is aan die westelike dele van Suid-Afrika. Dit word ook boesmansuring genoem, maar hierdie naam word gewoonlik vir die naverwante A. rufescens gebruik.[1] Die plant is as veilig gelys op die SANBI-rooilys.


Die spesie het 'n uitgestrekte (maar smal) verspreiding in die westelike dele van Suid-Afrika, van die grens met Namibië (die Richtersveld), deur die Namakwaland en westelike Groot Karoo, af tot by die Worcester-area in die Robertson Karoo en van Bredasdorp tot by Uniondale.[2]



Buchu is a plant from South Africa. The leaf is used to make medicine.

In manufacturing, the oil from buchu is used to give a fruit flavor (often black currant) to foods. It is also used as a fragrance in perfumes and colognes

Buchu is used for urinary tract infections (UTIs), including infections involving the urethra (urethritis) and kidneys (pyelonephritis). It is also used by mouth for treating inflamed prostate (prostatitis), benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH), high blood pressure, fever, cough, common cold, upset stomach, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gout, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

Buchu is applied to the skin as an insect repellant, as a deodorant, and for skin infections.



  • A common name is Hottentot bread due to the milky, somewhat sweetish flavour of the edible root which is sometimes gathered from the wild for local use. The plant's latex is said to be poisonous.[2] In Afrikaans the plant is called bergbaroe, bergkambroo, kambaroo, kambroo, kambro, or hotnotswaatlemoen. In Khoi it is called !Koo, !Ku, or !Kuu.[3][4]

  • Description

  • A semi-deciduous perennial caudiciform with fat, twisted grey roots. In the wild, the caudex is partially or totally buried and tends to grow faster this way, reaching up to 60 cm in diameter. The thin vine branches may reach a length of up to 4 meters, and climb on any type of available support. The leaves are green, entire and oblong.

  • Fockeas are dioecious, so a male plant and a female plant are needed to produce seeds. The flowers are whitish-green, not very showy but lightly scented, small (0.6-1.5 cm wide) vygie-like flowers surrounded by a large, thick, spider-like calyx. The flowers are pollinated by fruit flies. The plant produces grey-greenish seed pods.

  • Distribution and habitat

  • This species is widespread in southern Africa where it grows in warmer drier areas, dry savannah and rocky slopes. It is of easy cultivation and hardy when kept reasonably dry and watered only enough to keep the tuber from shriveling. Although it shows decreased activity in the January – April period, it never goes into complete dormancy and always carries some leaves. Plants cannot tolerate more than occasional light frosts with temperatures dropping as low as -2 °C.[5]