A continent as diverse as Africa boasts not only geographical and wildlife interest, but also diversity and range in plant life as well. Various trees, shrubs, flowers and other plants live in Africa, and many serve purposes aside from aesthetic interest. Animals feed on some plants and some are used for medicinal purposes.
This African plant, also called the cancer bush, hails from the three cape provinces of South Africa. It is a small shrub characterized by silver-gray foliage, scarlet-colored flowers and unusual seedpods. Sutherlandia frutescens has been used for hundreds of years for medicinal purposes. The leaves and other plant parts were traditionally boiled and used to treat fevers, stomach ailments, flu, rheumatism and diabetes. The Medical Research Council of South Africa has conducted studies demonstrating that the extract of this plant is a safe tonic for treatment of many ailments, including tuberculosis, cancer and chronic fatigue syndrome.
The marula tree hails from the warm, eastern parts of Africa. It is most often found in Bongani, Ngala, Phinda and Londolozi in South Africa. The waxy yellow fruit of the marula tree is collected and used to make beer, wine, jam and jelly. The seeds, or nuts, of the tree are sometimes crushed and boiled for use in therapeutic massage and for use in meat preservation. Rural woodcutters tend to avoid cutting down marula trees because of the high value and many uses of the trees. Due to bark stripping by elephants, marula trees are considered endangered in the Madikwe Safari Lodge Game Reserve in South Africa.
Adenium multiflorum, also called impala lily, features masses of scented flowers that bloom in pink, red, crimson, white and bicolors from May to September. Parts of adenium multiflorum are used to make arrow and fish poison. Although this plant is considered toxic, it is sometimes used for medicinal purposes. It is considered threatened in Zambia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe, mainly due to agriculture, horticulture and eating of the plant by wild animals.
Aloe is a succulent plant with many cultivars growing wild in Africa. It ranges in size from compact to tree-like and blends with other plant life during summer. In winter, the aloe plants produce spikes of yellow, red or orange flowers. Aloe is used for many purposes, including stomach ailments and constipation. It is used commercially for the production of hair and skin care products.