Brilliant plants of the Kruger Park

While on a Kruger National Park tour recently, I was not only wowed by the abundance of wildlife but also by the vast untamed flora in the area. The sheer amount of plant and tree species is mind-blowing and it’s incredible to think about how people have used the plants, leaves, bark and flowers to survive for hundreds of years. Whether it is tricks that have been passed down from generation to generation or the practise of traditional African healers, there is no doubt that some plants have the ability to work wonders. It’s been said that natural healing arts have been practised for centuries and that more than 5000 plant species have successfully been used as food or for medicine throughout the ages.

If you’re holidaying in the Kruger or anywhere else in Africa, keep an eye out for the following well known plants:

Acacia

Gum from the acacia plant is used by herbalists to bind pills and lozenges. It is also used, in processed form, as an ingredient in food like candy and cold drinks. It is also widely used in organic products as an alternative to harmful chemical binders and is a great base for essential oils.

Aloe

You’ll find aloe plant species in abundance on a tour to the Kruger National Park. With its wide range of important medicinal uses, aloe is a precious and respected plant. The juices from aloe leaves are used in many gels, creams and lotions around the world. Brilliant for wounds, aloe gel has antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties that help to prevent infection. It also has anti inflammatory effects and promotes skin regeneration.

Rooibos

One of the most well known plants used today, Rooibos is naturally caffeine free and is said to be a good anti inflammatory aid as well as a good aid for insomnia. Interestingly, before the 1930’s Rooibos became the brew of choice for Early Dutch settlers at the Cape, who started drinking it as an alternative to expensive black tea from Europe.

Pygeum

Also known as the African Cherry because of its relation to the cherry tree, this African plant is an endangered species due to its high demand in medicines used around the world. The bark of this evergreen tree has been used in the past to cure urinary tract infections. Pygeum is also a plant which is said to benefit male health.

Basil

Besides the fact that it completes pizza and pasta, Basil tea has been known to work wonders for morning sickness and headaches.

Chamomile

A great remedy for tension and anxiety, Chamomile is a soothing plant that also helps with PMS. Apparently an eye sty can also be treated with cooled chamomile tea.

Marula

Another well known plant, the Marula tree is beneficial to both humans and animals. The fruit has denser concentrations of vitamin C than oranges and elephants, baboons and kudu also enjoy the nuts and fruit which the tree bears.

Besides having medicinal properties, people who have survived in the bush have identified plants that they can use to make rope and shelter, for example. They have also determined which wood is best for brushing teeth, which leaves are best to use for toilet paper and which berries would fatally poison a human instantly – the list is endless! If the natural world interests you, ask your guide about medicinal plants on your next Kruger National Park tour and find out how incredibly useful plants really are.

Warren Kings is a copywriter for African Travel.

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Comments (1)

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  1. I love the Marula tree – it’s great for photographs and the drink isnt too bad either.

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