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Executive Summary


Study Area




Rock Art

Sociology: Human Component

Living Culture and Creative Cultural Assets

Arts Heritage: A Case Study

Mission History


Botanical Diversity

Endemic Flora

Orchidaceae of the Soutpansberg

Medicinal Plants

River Health and Water Quality

Lepidoptera (Butterflies and Moths)


Spiders (Araneae)



Indigenous Birds


Private Game Reserves and State Reserves

Medicinal Plants Down load PDF version

P. Tshisikhawe
University of Venda for Science and Technology

Available information

Species inventory list Table 1

Summary statistics

The plant parts most preferred in medicinal plants are roots. Of the medicinal plants found in the shops visited, 61% were in the form of roots, 22% in the form of whole plant, 15% in the form of barks, 1% in the form of fruits and the other 1% in the form of leaves. The plant parts most sensitive to harvest are the ones that are most exploited. Therefore collectors must collect such parts with extreme care, to ensure plant survival and conservation.

According to Mr. Netshia (personal communication), traditional healers know the plants by vernacular names only. This is apparently a way of protecting information from clients so that they may not recognize the plants used for treating them are actually the same as perhaps those growing in their backyard. For example, Elaeodendron transvaalensis is connotationally referred to as ‘mukuvhazwivhi/mulumanama’ by traditional healers whereas laymen commonly know it as ‘mulumanamana’, or ‘muswigiri’. Despite the difference between ‘mulumanama’ and ‘mulumanamana’ being small, the traditional healers will simply regard mulumanamana as an unknown species to them.

Conservation measures for Brackenridgea zanguebarica, since it is regarded as threatened, have been put in place by making a reserve around a population of this species. The conservation authorities and the headman make sure that there is no collection of medicinal plant materials from this reserve. Collection of medicinal plant materials is only done outside the reserve and even this has been suspended since 1997 so that the trees are given time to recover. According to headman Nemafukani, seedlings of this plant which have been seen to establish themselves in great numbers, will also have enough time to grow into mature plants. This will ensure a continuous and sustainable supply of medicinal materials from the area. The territorial council arrests people found collecting medicinal materials during the recovery period. Because of the fact that headmen from the areas where Brackenridgea zanguebarica is found are given a share in the cash generated, civic people in such areas also play a conservationist role by policing the area. This system of managing natural resources by involving traditional leaders and the community was found to be very successful.

Traditional healers still practise rituals of collecting medicinal materials, while in the field. These rituals possibly ensure that the plant from which medicinal materials are collected should not die to ensure that the medicine should work effectively. The interest of traditional healers in hemiparasites and epiphytes on trees was also observed. Middlemen are also involved in the collection of medicinal plant materials, in some cases, and the significance of their contribution was investigated.

Major studies and publications

MABOGO, D. E. N. 1990. The ethnobotany of the Vhavenda. M.Sc. Thesis. University of Pretoria. Pretoria, RSA.

TSHISIKHAWE, M. P. 2002. Trade of indigenous medicinal plants in the Northern Province, Venda region: their ethnobotanical importance and sustainable use. M.Sc. Thesis. University of Venda for Science and Technology. Thohoyandou, RSA.

Recommendations for priority studies required to fill any gaps identified

People will always utilize natural resources and it is therefore important to investigate the sustainability of their actions.

“Hot spots” of particular importance

Reserves should be constructed in some areas where important plants are harvested since such plant species might face extinction.

Copyright: © Soutpansberg—Limpopo Biosphere Initiative