Muthi and Myths from the African Bush

52 compelling tales that lead on a journey of discovery of African plant mythology and its associated healing practices
Dugmore, Heather; van Wyk, Ben-Erik
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Title: Muthi and Myths from the African Bush
Authors: Heather Dugmore; Ben-Erik van Wyk
Briza Publications
Pretoria, South Africa 2008
ISBN 9780958495493 / ISBN: 978-0-9584954-9-3
Softcover, 21 x 26 cm, 128 pages, richly illustrated with colour photographs

About: Muthi and Myths from the African Bush

In Muthi and Myths from the African Bush are fifty-two compelling tales that will lead the reader on a journey of discovery of the African continent. It tracks the ancient grail of traditional African medicine or muthi. The journey takes one year, with one story for each of the fifty-two weeks. Many of the stories inherited through Africa’s compelling oral tradition are between these covers: committed to paper for the first time ever. The ancient African people were the first aromatherapists who well understood the effect of plants on the human body, mind and soul. Innately spiritual, the thousands of lineages of African people across thousands of years have all used plant medicines for healing, always with the blessing of their ancestors. Knowledge of African plant mythology and its associated healing practices is most certainly a grail because on this great continent we call Africa, knowledge has always been an oral tradition. Because it was never written down, thousands of years of healing wisdom and intelligence have been lost in the transference from one generation to the next. This book endeavoures to bring to light the deep history of fifty-two of the thousands of indigenous medicinal plants of Africa, before it is too late. The focus is towards Southern Africa because this region is a hotspot of cultural and botanical diversity. Unlike the healing knowledge of other ancient cultures, such as India or China, little of Africa’s healing history is recorded. As you read the stories about fifty-two of the continent’s prominent indigenous plant cures, the authors hope you, too, will experience some of the magnetism, mystery and wisdom of Africa. They hope it will help you understand a bit more about yourself and about our species: the human being.

Content: Muthi and Myths from the African Bush

1. Love and the Leopard Orchid
Botanical name: Ansellia africana
Common name: Leopard orchid
2. The Invisible-maker
Botanical name: Gasteria croucheri
Common names: Impundu and bosaalwyn
3. Fire is an Ancient Friend
Botanical name: Spathodea campanulata
Common name: African flame tree or nandi flame
4. Doorway to the Life Hereafter
Botanical name: Boophone disticha
Common name: Bushman poison bulb
5. The Knowledge and Wisdom Tree
Botanical name: Adansonia digitata
Common names: Baobab, muvhuyu (Venda)
6. Aphrodisiac of Hope
Botanical name: Nyrnphaea caerulea
Common name: Blue water lily
7. The Heartbeat of Africa
Botanical Name: Ptaeroxylon obliquum
Common names: Sneezewood, umthathe (Xhosa)
8. A Living Fossil
Botanical name: Steganotaenia araliacea
Common name: Carrot tree
9. Eating, Drinking and Talking Bull
Botanical name: Acacia karroo
Common names: Sweet thorn; mookana (Northern
Sotho); moshaoka (Tswana); umnga (Xhosa);
umunga (Zulu); soetdoring (Afrikaans)
10. The Joys of Pregnancy
Botanical name: Gunnera perpensa
Common names: Ugobho, river pumpkin
11. Magic Carpet Ride
Botanical name: Peganum harmala
Common names: African rue, wild rue; harmal
(Arabic), harmel rue sauvage (French)
12. Awakening the Dead
Botanical name: Myrothamnus flabellifolius
Common names: Resurrection plant, uvukwabafile
13. A Very Sexy Tree
Botanical name: Kigelia africana
Common names: Sausage tree; worsboom,
muvevha (Venda), umfongothi (Zulu)
14. Toothsticks of the Gods
Botanical name: Diospyros lychides
Common name: Bluebush
15. African Aromatherapy
Botanical name: Agathosma betulina
Common name: Round-leaf buchu or boegoe
16. One of the World's Greatest Plants
Botanical name: Aloe ferox
Common name: Bitter aloe
17. Synergy and the Daisy Herb
Botanical name: Osmitopsis asteriscoides
Common names: Daisy herb, belskruie (Afrikaans
18. Warding off Evil
Botanical name: Dichrostachys cinerea
Common names: Sickle bush, Chinese lantern
tree, kalahari Christmas tree
19. The Green Muse
Botanical name: Artemisia afra
Common names: African wormwood, umhlonyane (Zulu),
wildeals (Afrikaans)
20. The Marriage Tree
Botanical name: Sclerocarya birrea
Common names: Marula, maroela, morula
21. The Wild One
Botanical name: Prunus africana
Common names: Red stinkwpod, inyazangoma-
elimnyana (Zulu), umkakase (Xhosa)
22. Eight Days of Healing
Botanical name: Lobostemon fruticosiis
Common names: Agtdaegeneesbossie,
douwurmbos (Afrikaans)
23. Once Upon A Time In Paradise
Botanical name: Aframomum melegueta
Common names: Grains of paradise, melegueta
pepper, alligator pepper, Guinea pepper.
24. Seed of Faith
Botanical name! Salvadora persica
Common names: Mustard tree; toothbrush tree;
Pfefferkorn der Bibel (German); khoris (Damara)
miswak (Arabic)
25. Guardian of the Grail
Botanical name: Pelargonium sidoides
Common name: Umckaloabo (Zulu)
26. The Birds' Beer
Botanical name: Leonotis leonurus
Common names: Wild dagga, wilde dagga (Afri-
kaans), utshwalabenyoni (Zulu), umhlahlampetu
27. The Shape-Shifter
Botanical name: Protea repens
Common names: Sugarbush, suikerbos
28. The Hoodia Controversy
Botanical name: Hoodia pilifera and
Hoodia gordonii
Common name: Ghaap
29. Too Hot to Lose
Botanical name: Warburgia salutaris
Common names: Pepper:bark tree, isibhaha
30. Miracle in a Cup of Tea
Botanical name: Centella asiatica
Common names: Pennywort, gotu kola
31. Dicoma's Shadow
Botanical name: Dicoma schinzii
Common name: Kalahari fever bush
32. A Mind and Mood Plant
Botanical name: Catha edulis
Common names: Khat, qat, Bushman's tea
33. Miracle Cure or Marketing Myth?
Botanical name: Hypoxis hemerocallidea
Common name: African potato or imkomfe
34. The People's Plant
Botanical name: Bulbine frutescens
Common name: Burn jelly plant
35. Extending the Devil's Claw
Botanical name: Harp agophy turn procumbens
Common names: Devil's claw7 tloutaxaba (San)
36. Umathunga to a Hippo
Botanical name: Euqgmis autumnalis
Common names: Pineapple flower; umathunga
37. Air for the Spirits
Botanical name; Helichrysum odoratissimufn
Common name: Imphepho (Zulu)
38. The Rise and Rise of Rooihos
Botanical name: Aspalathus linearis
Common name: Rooibos tea
39. Unsung Wonder Bush
Botanical name: Sutherlandia frutescens
Common names: Cancer bush, gansies
40. No Safety in Numbers
Botanical name: Merwilla plumbea
Common names: Blue squill, slangkop or inguduza
41. A Very Famous Tea
Botanical name: Hibiscus sabdariffa
Common names: Hibiscus, red-sorrel, roselle,
Jamaica sorrel
42. One-Eyed Honey
Botanical name: Cyclopia genistoides
Common name: Honeybush tea
43. The Happy Hunter
Botanical name: Xysmalobium undulatum
Common name: Ishongwe
44. Chewing on Happiness
Botanical name: Steletium tortuosum
Common names: Kougoed, kanna
45. Worth its Weight in Myrrh
Botanical name: Commiphora myrrha
Common name: Myrrh tree
46. Unukani Under Siege
Botanical name: Ocotea bullata
Common names: Black stinkwood, unukani
47. Pure African Potency
Botanical name: Pausinystalia johimbe
Common name: Yohimbe tree
48. Breast of a White Woman
Botanical name: Zanthoxylum capense
Common names: Umlungumabele (Xhosa); kleinperdepram
(Afrikaans); small knobwood
49. The Wild and Wonderful Olive
Botanical name: Olea africana
Common name: Wild olive
50. That Darned Elusive Indungulo
Botanical name: Siphonochilus aethiopicus
Common name: Wild ginger, indungulo (Zulu)
51. It Starts With a Kiss
Botanical name: Viscum capense
Common names: Litjiestee, voelent (Afrikaans)
Cape mistletoe
52. Delightfully Dangerous
Botanical name: Coffea arabica
Common name: Coffee tree
Photographic contributions