Original Research

An ethnobotanical survey of Athrixia phylicoides and its uses.

J. Olivier, A. E. de Jager
Suid-Afrikaanse Tydskrif vir Natuurwetenskap en Tegnologie | Vol 24, No 4 | a183 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/satnt.v24i4.183 | © 2005 J. Olivier, A. E. de Jager | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 23 September 2005 | Published: 23 September 2005

About the author(s)

J. Olivier, Departement Omgewingswetenskappe, South Africa
A. E. de Jager, Departement Geografie, Universiteit van Suid-Afrika, South Africa

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Although traditional green and black tea is the world’s favourite drink, health or herbal “teas” are becoming increasingly popular. Despite the diversity of indigenous South African plants, only two herbal teas, namely honeybush and rooibos, are presently being produced on a commercial basis. However, a “tea” obtained from the Athrixia phylicoides plant, is extremely popular in the eastern interior of the country and may have commercial potential. Two ethnobotanical surveys were conducted in the Limpopo Province and in KwaZulu-Natal to obtain information on the traditional use of the plant amongst different ethnic groups. It was found that A. phylicoides is used as a herbal “tea”, as a medicine and for the making of brooms. Although A. phylicoides tea is very popular, the plant is most often used for the making of brooms. Medicinally it is used to treat “heart problems”, high blood pressure and diabetes. Only minor ethnically-based differences in medicinal use were revealed by the surveys. Its symbolic value and use during religious ceremonies were previously undocumented. Owing to indiscriminate harvesting techniques practised by pickers from urban areas, the plant is becoming increasingly scarce and may be faced with local extinction.


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