Categories
flowers indigenous medicinal

Snake Charms

One of my all time favourite indigenous plants, and also very popular with landscapers in Durban, is the Wild Garlic (Tulbaghia violacea or Isihaqa).  It grows in clumps of grey-green, strappy leaves that smell strongly of garlic when bruised or, in fact, even when watered.  Beautiful purple flowers appear at the end of stalks throughout summer, and look particularly impressive when grouped together.

A hardy, drought-resistant plant, wild garlic requires little attention once settled in your garden.  The flowers form seed-pods which are very easy to propagate and wild garlic will self-seed itself if left to its own devices.  As the plant grows, larger clumps can also be divided to form new plants.

This plant is also extensively used in traditional medicine – to treat asthma, rheumatism, colds and tuberculosis.  In permaculture, wild garlic is planted among vegetable crops to keep pests away, in particular aphids, and the young leaves can also be eaten as a type of spinach.  In rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal, wild garlic is planted around homesteads to protect them from snakes.  Lastly, and I have no proof that this works, the root of the plant can be used as a love charm by men to attract girls.

What an amazing and useful plant!

Wild Garlic flower.
Wild Garlic flower.
Categories
indigenous medicinal

Bulbine latifolia

This is a really cool little plant with some really interesting uses.   Traditional healers in South Africa use the sap of the plant to treat eczema and similar skin conditions while the tuber of the plant is used to quell vomiting and diarrhoea.  I think it is also being investigated to determine if it has any uses for the treatment of AIDS-related illnesses.

On a more magical level, the plant is rubbed on the legs of children who are late in walking in the belief that it will strengthen their muscles.

Plus, its great to look at and has these fantastic yellow flowers.  The Zulu name is ibhucu.

Bulbine latifolia.
Bulbine latifolia.