Advertisement

Ethnobotanical knowledge of the lay people of Blouberg area (Pedi tribe), Limpopo Province, South Africa

  • Nkoana Ishmael Mongalo
  • Tshepiso Jan Makhafola
Open Access
Research

Abstract

Background

Limpopo province, South Africa, has a rich plant diversity and is referred to as one of the hotspots areas within the country. The aim of the current work was to identify and document medicinal plant species used by the indigenous Pedi people of Blouberg area, Limpopo Province, South Africa.

Methods

A total of 40 informants which includes both traditional healers and medicinal plant sellers were randomly selected and asked about the plant species used in treatment of variety of infections using a structured questionnaire. Follow-up visits and various field walks were also used to identify and document various plant species used in Traditional medicine (TM). The interviews were carried out from April 2008 to June 2016 using indigenous language (Sehananwa).

Results

A total of 82 medicinal plants species belonging to 42 families have been collected, identified and documented. About 46.34% of the plant species were herbs, followed by trees (25.61%), shrubs (20.73%) and climbers (7.32%). The most used plant parts are roots and rhizomes (58.58%). Peltophorum africanum Sond revealed frequency index of greater than 70 and is used in combination with other plants species to treat various pathogenic infections. Most of the plant species reported are used in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections (24), management of HIV-AIDS (15) and stomach ache (14). Our informants indicated that the use of plant medicines in combinations is also applied to cure pathogenic infections.

Conclusion

The current study demonstrate that the indigenous people of Blouberg area, Limpopo Province harbours an important information about the vegetation around them. The plant species are used in the treatment of various pathogenic infections, offers fruits as additional source of food and form integral part of other medicinal products that may in turn produce income.

Keywords

Blouberg area Limpopo Province Ethno-medicine Ethnobotanical urvey Medicinal plants South Africa 

Background

Limpopo Province is mostly dominated by the Pedi (57%), Tsonga (23%) and Venda (12%), ethnic groups while English and Afrikaans speaker only constitutes less than 4% combined [1]. However, there are other unofficial languages which includes Khelobedu, Setlokwa and Sehananwa falling under the Sotho or Pedi speaking people. Blouberg area, dominated by Pedi tribe, comprise of only two main health care facilities (Blouberg and Helena-Franz Hospital), a small remote town known as Senwabarwana and a few game reserves (Blouberg and Maleboho nature reserves). The population in this area, like in other rural African communities is reliant on traditional medicine (TM) as their basic source of health care [2, 3]. The other possible challenges in health care facilities within the study site may include long distances travelled to hospitals, long waiting on the queues, drug shortages, lack of proper laboratories with state of the art scientific equipment and attitudes of the health workers [4]. The area is one of the medicinal plants hotspots with only little plant species documented in the few surveys taken recently within the Province [5, 6, 7, 8, 9], but not strictly focussing on Blouberg area.

Several ethnobotanical studies have been taken world-wide, documenting different plant species and preserving the indigenous knowledge of various communities [10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. Most of these surveys may well serve as possible leads for the discovery of potent new drugs that may be used to combat most harmful infections that pose a serious threat to human and animal health. Traditional people believe in using TM or herbal therapy in treating various infections, mostly because plant species are abundant in nature in their surrounding environment, less priced and are believed to pose less or no side effects. Moreover, it is believed that herbal therapy is holistic, integrating the emotional, spiritual and mental well-being of the patients [16]. Furthermore, TM is culturally acceptable and there is a belief that it purges out any infection after treatment from hospitals [17]. Besides being the main source of drugs in the current threatened health care system with emerging multiple resistant organisms, the traditional medicine still receives little attention world-wide [18].

The enormous rise in HIV-AIDS infections in Africa pose a further threat to human life, resulting in variety of opportunistic infections which may include various skin infections inflammatory disorders, various forms of candidiasis, reactivation of the TB germ and other possible pulmonary infections, multiple forms of lymphoma and various Herpes infections [19, 20, 21]. The aim of the current work is to identify and document various plant species used by the lay people of Blouberg (Hananwa).

Methods

Study area

South Africa (Fig. 1) is divided into nine Provinces. Blouberg area, indigenously known as Hananwa, is situated in the Limpopo Province, 30 km north of Dendron and 95 km from Polokwane, and connects South Africa to both Botswana and Zimbabwe. Geographically, it is a deep rural area, mountainous and located between the Waterberg Wetlands and the Dongola Trans-frontier and extends right up to the Botswana border [22].
Fig. 1

Map of South Africa, locating Blouberg area (red coloured area)

The area is under kingship of the Leboho family and occupies an area of approximately 5054 km2 and a total population of about 166,243 people [23]. Big rivers such as Bohlokwe, Tswatšane, Mmatšope and other small rivers provide water to various livestock in the area. Mogalakwena River, with its rich biota which includes crocodiles, also cuts into the area. Various sites on the mountain Blouberg- a green mountain throughout the year, serves different purposes. Ploughing fields, burial site for the kings of the past and hunting grounds are amongst the most important sites in the mountain.

Selection of informants and interviews

A total of 40 informants which includes 20 traditional healers and 20 medicinal plants sellers from Blouberg area have been randomly sampled from a pool of informants attending meeting relating to African Dingaka Association of South Africa at Blouberg area from April 2008 to June 2016 using structured questionnaires, follow-up visits and field trips. Various visits were made to establish a rapport and more often assisting in plant collection for use in the African surgeries (consulting rooms). Informants were mostly from villages such as Lethaleng, Ga-Mochemi, Ditatšu, Ga-Rammutla A, Pickum B, Ga-Mashalane, Ga-Mmamolele, Ga-Broekmane, Dilaeneng, Ga-Machaba, Ga-Kibi, Ga-Mmaleboho, Ga-Radimang, Ga-Manaka, Sewale, Bosehla, Mohlabeng-wa-Malokela, Gwarung, Ga-Kobe, Sebotlane, Ga-Kibi, Devrede, Makgabeng, Marobjane, Inveraan and Bull-bull. The informants agreed to furnish information regarding the indigenous medicinal plant species used in the treatment of various infections treated by both healers and plant sellers using questionnaires, while noting the plant species named using Sehananwa as a local language. At a later date, informants were requested to identify the plant species at various collection sites.

Follow-up visits were later conducted with the intention of verifying the information given by informants, particularly the correspondence of indigenous names, and then later request further information on whether the plant species mentioned are used as a single plant material or in combination with other plant species. Only plant species mentioned by the informants at least three times were eligible for documentation [24]. Data on combinations of plants in the treatment of infections was documented, including mode of preparation and route of administration.

Collection and identification of medicinal plants

The plant species were collected, pressed and identified by botanists in the Department of Life and Consumer Sciences, Horticulture and College of Agriculture and Environmental Science (CAES) laboratories. The unknown plant materials to the authors and staff in the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences were send to National Botanical Institute (NBI) in Pretoria for identification (The personnel who assisted in identification includes Klopper, R.R., Mothogoane, M.S., Makgakga, M.C., Makwarela, L.E., Archer, R.H., Nkonki, T., Ready, J.A., Bester, S.P., Meyer, J.J., Ruiters, A.K. and Welamn, N). The voucher specimen of all the collected plant species were then lodged at University of South Africa herbarium in Florida. Other plant materials were also deposited into the NBI herbarium. These includes Cissus cornifolia, Neorautanenia mitis, Pollichia campestris, Ipomoea albivenia, Pterodiscus kellerianus, Ehretia rigida and Aptosimum lineare.

Data analysis

The analysis of data was carried out using both descriptive and inferential statistics using percentages and frequencies. The frequency index (FI), informant consensus factor (Fic) and Fidelity levels (FL) were calculated and compared. FI of the documented plant species were calculated using the formula:
$$ \mathrm{FI}=\mathrm{FC}/N\kern0.5em \times 100, $$
Where FI is the frequency of citation for one plant species by informants, FC is the number of informants who cited the use of the plant species and N is the total number of informants [25, 26]. Fic was calculated to determine the homogeneity of the information provided by the informants using the formula:
$$ \mathrm{FIC}={\mathrm{N}}_{\mathrm{ur}}\hbox{-} {\mathrm{N}}_{\mathrm{taxa}}/{\mathrm{N}}_{\mathrm{ur}}\hbox{-} 1 $$
Where Nur is the number of use reports, Ntaxa is the number of species in each use category [27], while FL was calculated using the formula:
$$ \mathrm{FL}={\mathrm{I}}_{\mathrm{p}}/{\mathrm{I}}_{\mathrm{u}}\mathrm{X}\ 100 $$

Where Ip is the number of informants who suggested the use of the species for the same major ailment and Iu represents the total number of informants who mentioned the species for any use [28].

Results

Socio-demographic information and diversity of plants species

The communities around Blouberg area use diverse flora in treatment of various ailments and local people possess a rich traditional knowledge on the use of medicinal plants as medicine. The age of our informants ranged from 30 to 88 years (Table 1). About 64% of our informants are aged between 40 and 65 years of age while 10% of our informants are below the age of 40 years. About 40% of our informants have never been to school and only one of the 40 participants possess a diploma in Education and is also a well-known traditional healer. A total of 82 plant species belonging to 42 different families were recorded in the current study (Table 2). Families such as Fabaceae (14.63%), Malvaceae (8.54%), Apocynaceae (7.32%), Solanaceae (6.10%), Convolvulaceae (4.88%), Euphorbiaceae (3.66%) and Vitaceae (3.66%) were well represented (Table 3) and are dominant, while families such as Rubiaceae, Olacaceae, Loganiaceae, Ebenaceae, Celastraceae, Asphodelaceae and Anacardiaceae reported 2.44% each. The other families recorded one plant species each.
Table 1

Demographic of informants

Informants category

Males

Females

Age groups

Level of Education

   

30–40

41–50

51–65

Above 65

Never been to school

ABET

Education

Primary

Education

Secondary

Education

Tertiary

Education

Traditional healers

8

12

1

9

10

6

4

3

6

1

Plant sellers

14

6

4

12

4

10

0

2

8

0

Percentage

55

45

10

32.5

32.5

25

40

10

12.5

35

2.5

Table 2

Ethnobotany of the Pedi tribe of Blouberg area, Limpopo Province, South Africa

Family/Voucher number

Plant species

Growth form

Plant part used

Indigenous name(s)

Ethno-medicinal uses

Frequency Index

Mode of administration

Acanthaceae

 MNI-18

Blepharis diversispina (Nees) C.B.Clarke.

Herb

Roots

Mookapitsi

Roots are used to treat the deceased’s wife and sexually transmitted infections.

73

Nasal

Amaryllidaceae

 MNI-81

Ammocharis coranica (Ker Gawl.) Herb.

Herb

Bulb

Mmotu wa fase

Bulb is used in the treatment of foot ache.

23

Fresh pieces of bulb is cooked and resulting solution is applied directly to affected area.

Anacardiaceae

 MNI-82

Mangifera indica L.

Tree

Stem bark

Mo-Mango

Stem bark is used to treat heart infections and diarrhoea

33

Oral

  

Fruits

 

The fruits are edible

  

 MNI-17

Sclerocarya birrea (A.Rich.) Hochst.

Tree

Stem bark

Morula

Stem bark is used to treat sexually transmitted infections, a general immune booster for HIV-AIDS patients and as blood purifier. Stem bark is also used to treat ethno-veterinary infections in cattle.

75

Oral

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible and may be used to prepare home-made beer.

  

Apiaceae

 MNI-20

Peucedanum sulcatum Sond.

Herb

Roots

Mongamo

Roots are used as general medicine

28

Oral.

Apocynaceae

 MNI-30

Carissa edulis (Forssk.) Vahl.

Shrub

Roots

Mothokolo

Roots are used to treat sexually transmitted infections

33

Oral

  

Leaves

 

Sap from the leaves is used to treat sores and wounds from the body.

 

Sap and chopped fresh leaves are immersed in hot water overnight and then used to wash wounds

  

Fruits

 

Fruit are edible

  

 MNI-41

Catharanthus roseus (L.) G.Don

Herb

Roots

Lepolomo

Roots are used to treat skin related infections and “dropsy” a sexually transmissible disease.

30

Oral and topically applied to affected area.

 MNI-39

Nerium oleander L.

Shrub

Leaves

Five-roses

Leaves are used to treat tooth ache.

10

Fresh leaves are chopped, immersed in water overnight and used to rinse the mouth.

  

Roots

 

Roots are used to treat diarrhoea.

 

Oral

 MNI-49

Sarcostemma acidum (Roxb.) Voigt

Climber

Whole plant

Moraro

Whole plant used for magical purposes.

58

Blown

 MNI-50

Sarcostemma torreyi (A. Grey) Woodson

Climber

Whole plant

Moraroana

Whole plant used for magical purposes.

30

Blown

 MNI-33

Raphionacme hirsuta (E.Mey.) R.A.Dyer

Herb

Bulb

Tshengwa

Bulb used to treat sexually transmitted infections and may be carved into a wheel that can be used by boys when playing.

53

Oral

Asparagaceae

 MNI-48

Asparagus racemosus Willd.

Herb

Roots

Mophatlalatamaru

Roots are used as food for new-borns

8

Oral, mostly using a bottle for milk.

  

Whole plant

 

Whole plant is used for magical purposes

 

Burned

Asphodelaceae

 MNI-54

Aloe zebrina Baker

Herb

Roots

Tsikele

Roots are used to treat sexually transmitted infections

35

Oral

  

Whole plant

 

Whole plant is used for magical purposes. It is believed to dispel witches when grown in a home, both sides of the gate.

 

 MNI-79

Aloe marlothii A.Berger.

Shrub

Leaves

Seema ka Maoto

Liquid strained from the leaves is used to treat skin infections including sores and wounds. Leaves are also used to treat ethnoveterinary infections.

15

Topically applied to affected areas.

Asteraceae

 MNI-52

Geigeria aspera Harv.

Herb

Whole plant

Makgonatsohle

Whole plant is used to cure various stomach related illnesses.

45

Oral

Boraginaceae

 MNI-44

Ehretia rigida (Thumb) Druce subs. Nervifolia Retief & A.E. Van Wyk

Shrub

Roots

Mothobethobe

Roots are used to treat new born infections.

18

Oral using a bottle for milk.

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible.

  

Cactaceae

 MNI-51

Opuntia ficus-indica (L.) Mill.

Shrub

Roots

Motloro

Roots are used to treat shingles arising from HIV-AIDS

23

Roots are cooked and resulting liquid is used to wash the sores

  

Fruits

 

The fruits are edible

  

Cannabaceae

 MNI-78

Cannabis sativa L.

Herb

Whole plant

Motsokomogolo (Patše)

whole plant is used to treat “Vaal sick” and excessive headache.

28

Inhalation

Caricaceae

 MNI-83

Carica papaya L.

Tree

Roots

Mophoophoo

The roots are used to treat sexually transmitted infections

25

Oral

  

Fruits

 

The fruits are edible

  

Caryophyllaceae

 MNI-40

Pollichia campestris Aiton

Herb

Roots

Tshimanenyana

Roots are used to treat HIV/AIDS related infections.

15

Oral

Celastraceae

 MNI-58

Elaeodendron tranvaalense (Burtt Davy) R.H.Archer

Tree

Stem bark

Monamane

Stem bark is used to treat sexually transmitted infections.

15

Oral

 MNI-85

Gymnosporia senegalensis (Lam.)

Loes.

Herb

Leaves

Mphato

Leaves are used to treat stomach aches and vomiting.

38

Oral

  

Root bark

 

Root bark is used in the management of HIV-AIDS.

 

Oral

Combretaceae

 MNI-77

Terminalia sericea Burch. ex DC.

Tree

Roots

Monakanakane

Roots are used to strengthen the fontanelle and general immunity of the new born babies.

58

Oral, mostly using a bottle for milk.

  

Stem bark

 

Stem bark is used to treat skin related infections, sexually transmitted infections and opportunistic infections associated with HIV-AIDS.

 

Oral

Convolvulaceae

 MNI-57

Ipomoea alba L.

Climber

Stem bark

Mmolobolo

General medicine

28

Oral

 MNI-27

Ipomoea bolusiana Schinz

Herb

Bulb

Mokutu

Bulb is used to treat foot ache and sexually transmitted infections

30

Oral, Boiled in water and then applied with a soft cloth to affected leg without wounds.

 MNI-84

Ipomoea spp

Herb

Bulb

Tlola

General medicine, eaten by boys while shepherding the cows, food for rabbits and medicine for wild animals.

10

Oral

 MNI-34

Ipomoea albivenia Sweet

Climber

Bulb

Leshilahlole

Bulb is used to treat infertility in women.

15

Oral

Cucurbitaceae

 MNI-36

Cucumis hirsutus Sond.

Herb

Roots

Mokapane

Roots are used to treat deceased’s wife.

65

Nasal

  

Leaves

 

Leaves are used to enhance fertility in women.

 

Oral

Ebenaceae

 MNI-99

Euclea natalensis A.DC.

Shrub

Roots

Mokgokgono

Roots are used for magical purposes.

10

Burned

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible

  

 MNI-76

Euclea undulata Thunb.

Tree

Stem bark

Mokwerekwere

Stem bark is used is used to treat diarrhoea

50

Oral

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible

  

Euphorbiaceae

 MNI-59

Jatropha erythropoda Pax & K.Hoffm.

Herb

bulb

Thotamadi

Bulb used as blood purifier

25

Oral

 MNI-29

Jatropha zeyheri Sond.

Herb

Roots

Sefapabadia

Root is used in the treatment of eye infections, gynaecological complaints and sexually transmitted infections. Roots are also used to treat ethno-veterinary infections in cattle.

65

Oral, Roots are immersed in water and used to wash infected eyes daily

 MNI-45

Tragia dioica Sond.

Herb

Whole plant

Mmabetjane

Whole plant is used to cure sores in the stomach.

20

Oral

Fabaceae

 MNI-60

Acacia karroo Hayne

Tree

Roots

Mooka

Roots are used to treat diarrhoea.

15

Oral.

 MNI-94

Bauhinia galpinii N.E.Br.

Shrub

Roots

Mohohoma

Roots are used to treat sexually transmitted infections

10

Oral

 MNI-26

Cassia abbreviata Oliv.

Shrub

Roots

Monepenepe

Roots and stem bark are used in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections. Roots are also used to treat mellitus diabetes.

45

Oral

  

Stem bark

 

Stem bark may be used as an aphrodisiac for men, anti-poison and used as a general immune booster for HIV-AIDS patients. Stem barks are used in doctoring of homesteads before the rainy season, preventing the homesteads from lightning.

 

Oral

  

Leaves

 

Leaves are also used to treat ethno-veterinary infections in cattle.

 

Oral

 MNI-75

Dichrostachys cinerea (L.) Wight & Arn.

Tree

Leaves

Moretshe

Leaves are used to treat vomiting, while thorns are used for magical purposes.

18

Oral

 MNI-18

Elephantorrhiza elephantina (Burch.) Skeels

Herb

Roots

Mohauwane

Roots are used to treat sexually transmitted infections, blood purifier, eye infections and as a general medicine. Roots are also used to treat ethno-veterinary infections in cattle.

85

Oral, Rinsing is applied to eyes after being infused in water overnight.

 MNI-21

Elephantorrhiza burkei

Benth.

Herb

Roots

Mohauwane

Roots are used to treat sexually transmitted infections, blood purifier, eye infections and as a general medicine. Roots are also used to treat ethno-veterinary infections in cattle.

90

Oral

 MNI-74

Erythrina lysistemon Hutch.

Tree

seeds

Mo-Khupe

Magical purposes.

20

 MNI-85

Kirkia acuminata Oliv.

Tree

Sap from stem bark

Modumela

Sap is used to treat a fractured bone and is believed to accelerate healing. Sap also used for general well-being.

10

Stem is cut and resulting protruding sap is collected dried, ground and applied to fractured bone.

 MNI-10

Peltophorum africanum Sond.

Tree

Leaves

Mosehla

Leaves are used to treat ethno-veterinary infections in cattle.

78

Oral

  

Roots/ stem bark

 

Roots and stem bark are used to treat sexually transmitted infections, stomach and skin related infections

 

Oral

 MNI-80

Schotia brachypetala Sond.

Tree

Whole plant

Molope

Whole plant are used to treat diarrhoea

15

Oral

 MNI-42

Neorautanenia mitis (A. Rich) Verdc

Herb

Bulb

Letlopya

Bulb is used to treat foot ache

30

Boiled plant material is topically applied to legs

 MNI-17

Urginea sanguinea Schinz

Herb

Bulb

Sekanama

Bulbs are used to treat sexually transmitted infections and as a blood purifier. Bulbs are also used to treat ethno-veterinary infections.

48

Oral

Hypoxidaceae

 MNI-61

Hypoxis haemerocallidea Fisch., C.A.Mey. & Avé-Lall.

Herb

Bulb

Monna wa maledu

Bulb is used as an aphrodisiac for men and used as a general immune booster for HIV-AIDS patients

50

Oral

 MNI-42

Neorautanenia mitis (A. Rich) Verdc

Herb

Bulb

Letlopya

Bulb is used to treat foot ache

30

Fresh pieces of bulb is cooked and resulting solution is applied directly to affected area topically.

Loganiaceae

 MNI-67

Strychnos spinosa Lam.

Tree

Stem bark

Mokwakwa

Stem bark is used to treat diarrhoea and other related infections

20

Oral

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible.

  

 MNI-66

Strychnos madagascariensis Poir.

Tree

Roots

Morutla

Roots are used to treat foot ache and mouth ulcers associated with HIV-AIDS.

58

Ground roots are powdered and applied directly on infected area

Malvaceae

 MNI-73

Adansonia digitata L.

Tree

Stem bark

Motsoo

Stem bark is used to treat opportunistic fungal infections, mostly associated with HIV-AIDS.

35

Oral

   

Fruits

Fruit are edible

  

 MNI-16

Azanza garckeana (F.Hoffm.) Exell & Hillc.

Tree

Stem bark

Motlobya

Stem bark is used to treat painful joints in aged individuals

5

Oral

   

Fruits

Fruit are edible

  
  

Roots

 

Roots are used to treat heart related and high blood pressure in adults.

 

Oral

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible.

  

 MNI-24

Grewia flava DC.

Herb

Roots

Mothetlwa

Roots are used to cure sexually transmitted infections and excessive diarrhoea.

53

Oral

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible and may be collected dried and then mixed with a little mealie meal, cooked into porridge, which may be eaten alone during drought years.

  

 MNI-62

Grewia flavescens Juss.

Herb

Roots

Mopharatshwene

Roots are used as “disha” for the new born.

20

Oral, mostly using a bottle for milk.

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible

  

 MNI-95

Grewia spp

Shrub

Roots

Mowana

Roots are used as “disha” for the new born.

23

Oral, mostly using a bottle for milk.

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible

  

 MNI-25

Waltheria indica L.

Herb

Roots

Mokhutesela

Roots are used to treat sexually transmitted infections and stomach problems. Also used as food and stomach coolant for new born babies.

70

Oral

 MNI-32

Sida cordifolia L.

Herb

Whole plant

Mokadi

Whole plant us used to treat high blood pressure

15

Oral

Meliaceae

 MNI-71

Melia azeadarach L.

Tree

Leaves

Mosara

Leaves are used to treat infections associated with HIV-AIDS including shingles

30

Chopped fresh leaves are boiled and then liquid used to wash the affected area

Mesembryanthemaceae

 MNI-86

Carbobrotus edulis (L.) N.E.Br.

Herb

Leaves

Tima

Leaves are used to treat an STI known as “Tshofela” and may also be used to treat shingles associated with HIV-AIDS.

43

Topically applied to affected area.

Myrtaceae

 MNI-72

Psidium guajava L.

Shrub

Roots

Mo-Guava

Stomach ache and diarrhoea in adults.

58

Oral

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible

  

Olacaceae

 MNI-87

Ximenia caffra Sond.

Tree

Roots

Motshidikgomo

Roots are used to treat sexually transmitted infections.

30

Oral

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible

  

 MNI-70

Ximenia americana L.

Shrub

Roots

Motshidimphiswane

Roots are used in the treatment of asthma, stomach ache and various mouth ulcers associated with HIV-AIDS.

26

Oral, ground fruit is used to wash the ulcers.

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible

  

Pedaliaceae

 MNI-46

Pterodiscus kellerianus Schinz.

Herbs

Roots

Moyane

Fleshy roots are used to treat stomach aches in new-born babies

45

Oral, mostly using a bottle for milk.

Phyllanthaceae

 MNI-56

Flueggea virosa (Roxb. ex Willd.) Royle

Shrub

Branches

Mohlakaume

Branches are used for magical purposes.

10

Blown

  

Fruits

 

Fruit are edible

  

Poaceae

 MNI-63

Cynodon dactylon (L.) Pers.

herb

Whole plant

Mothlakatlhaka

Whole plant may be used to cure tonsils.

8

Grass is boiled in a tin with about 500 ml water and then applied to affected areas.

Polygalaceae

 MNI-69

Securidaca longipedunculata Fresen.

Shrub

Root bark

Mphesu

Root bark is used as an aphrodisiac for men

73

Root barks are ground into powder which is taken orally with mageu.

  

Root kernel

 

Root kernel is used to treat Headache

 

Dried kernels are burned and then inhaled.

Punicaceae

 MNI-88

Punica granatum L.

Shrub

Roots

Mokgarenate

Root are used to cure diarrhoea, mostly in HIV-positive patients and other related infections

8

The roots are dried and ground into powder which must be licked by mouth.

   

Fruits

Fruits are edible

  

Rhamnaceae

 MNI-91

Ziziphus mucronata Willd.

Tree

Roots

Mokgalo

Roots are used to treat stomach infections. Roots may also be used to manage HIV and HIDS.

10

Oral

  

Leaves

 

Leaves are used to treat burns and tonsils

 

Leaves are removed and then chewed by mouth, applied surrounding the affected area

  

Fruits

 

Fruit are edible

  

Rubiaceae

 MNI-89

Gardenia volkensii K.Schum.

Shrub

Branches

Morala

Stem bark is used to treat chest complaints and tuberculosis related infections.

10

Oral

  

Stem bark

 

The branches are cut into pieces which will be mixed with other medicines to doctor homesteads (Magical).

 

Burned

 MNI-64

Vangueria infausta Burch.

Tree

Branches

Mmilo

Branches used in doctoring of homesteads

23

Blown

  

Fruits

 

Fruit are edible

  

Salantaceae

 MNI-96

Osyris lanceolata Hochst. & Steud.

Shrub

Roots

Mphere

Roots are used for magical purposes.

35

Burned

Sapotaceae

 MNI-68

Mimusops zeyheri Sond.

Tree

Roots

Monupudu

Roots are used to treat syphilis (sexually transmissible disease), stomach ache and gynaecological infections.

10

Oral

  

Fruit

 

Fruit is edible

  

Scrophulariaceae

 MNI-47

Aptosimum lineare Marloth & Engl.

Herb

Whole plant

Popeloana

Whole plant is used to treat gynaecological complaints

17

Oral

Solanaceae

 MNI-90

Solanum aculeastrum Dunal

Herb

Roots

Morola

Roots are used to treat stomach aches.

30

Oral

 MNI-95

Solanum mauritianum Scop.

Shrub

Roots

Mothollo

Roots are used to treat stomach aches.

53

Oral

 MNI-100

Solanum panduriforme E.Mey.

Herb

Roots

Morolana

Roots are used to treat stomach aches.

30

Oral

 MNI-93

Solanum supinum Dunal

Herb

Roots

Morola

Roots are used to treat stomach aches.

15

Oral

 MNI-92

Withania somnifera (L.) Dunal

Herb

Roots

Mosalamaropeng

Roots are used to treat infertility and other gynaecological related infections.

35

Oral

Talinaceae

 MNI-35

Talinum caffrum (Thumb.) Eckl. & Zeyhr.

Herb

Roots

Peloana

Fleshy harvested roots are used to treat heart related infections.

15

Oral

Vitaceae

 MNI-22

Cissus quadrangularis L.

Climber

Whole plant

Mohlabadipoo

Whole plant is used to treat sexually transmitted infections and skin related infections. Stems are also used to treat ethno-veterinary infections in cattle.

73

Both oral and Topically applied to affected area.

 MNI-65

Vitis vinifera L.

Climber

Roots

Moterebe

Roots are used to treat high blood pressure in adults

12

oral

  

Fruits

 

Fruits are edible.

  

 MNI-31

Cissus cornifolia (Baker) Planch.

Herb

Bulb

Mokgoo

Bulb is used as a general medicine

33

Oral

  

Fruits

 

Fruit are edible

  

Xanthorhoeaceae

 MNI-43

Bulbine angustifolia Poelln.

Herb

Roots

Marumo a ngata

Roots are used as an aphrodisiac and for general well-being of men

30

Oral

Table 3

Plant families with the largest (At least 3 species reported) number of species

Family name

Number of species

Percentage

Fabaceae

12

14.63

Malvaceae

7

8.54

Apocynaceae

6

7.32

Solanaceae

5

6.10

Convolvulaceae

4

4.88

Euphorbiaceae

3

3.66

Vitaceae

3

3.66

Rubiaceae

2

2.44

Olacaceae

2

2.44

Loganiaceae

2

2.44

Ebenaceae

2

2.44

Celastraceae

2

2.44

Asphodelaceae

2

2.44

Anacardiaceae

2

2.44

Growth forms, plant parts used and mode of administration of plant species

The reported plant species were dominated by herbs (46.34%), followed by trees (25.61%), shrubs (20.73) and climbers (7.32%) (Fig. 2). Out of the reported plant species, roots and bulbs (underground plant material) were the most used (58.6%), followed by stem bark (13.1%), whole plant (12.1%) and leaves (11.1%) (Fig. 3).
Fig. 2

Growth forms of the reported plant species

Fig. 3

Plant parts used in the study

Most of the plants materials are boiled and taken orally (73%) when treating various types of infections (Fig. 4). The other plant species may be topically applied (10.89%) to the skin, while the others may be burned (5.94%) or used to wash and rinse (5.94%) the infected body part. The inhalation, nasal administration, and plant materials which may be blown reported less than 5% each.
Fig. 4

Mode of administration of reported medicinal plants

Ailments treated and consensus agreement

The most reported plant species are used in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections (24) followed by those used in the management of HIV-AIDS related infections (15), stomach ache (14) and plant species used in the treatment of ethno-veterinary infections (9) while the informant consensus factors (Fic) of the mentioned ailment categories ranged from 0.78 to 1 as shown in Table 4. About 25 species revealed FL value of 100% against variety of diseases (Table 5).
Table 4

Consensus agreement about uses of medicinal plants for important ailment categories

Ailment category

Ntaxa

Nur

Fic

High blood pressure

3

10

0.78

Joints

1

3

1

Fractured bones

1

4

1

Anti-poison

1

3

1

Aphrodisiac

4

37

0.92

Diabetes

1

3

1

Eye infections

3

30

0.93

Asthma

1

4

1

Tonsillitis

2

6

1

Chest complaints

1

3

1

Gynaecological complaints

6

37

0.86

vomiting

2

8

0.86

Headache

2

13

0.92

Vaal sick

1

7

1

Stomach ache

14

114

0.88

New born infections

7

47

0.88

Diarrhoea

7

43

0.86

Tooth ache

1

2

1

Skin infections

5

28

0.85

Sores and wounds

3

7

0.67

General medicine

6

46

0.89

Ethno-veterinary infections

9

44

0.81

Blood purifier

5

35

0.88

Management of HIV-AIDS

15

110

0.80

Heart infections

3

16

0.87

Foot ache

4

39

0.92

Deceased’s wife

2

49

0.98

Sexually transmitted infections

24

209

0.89

Some taxa falls in more than one ailment categories

 
Table 5

Fidelity levels (FL) of plant species used for various uses by key informants

Medicinal Plant species

Therapeutic uses

Ip

Iu

FL %

Bauhinia galpinii

Sexually transmitted infections

4

4

100

Mimusops zeyheri

Sexually transmitted infections

4

4

100

Raphionacme hirsuta

Sexually transmitted infections

16

21

72

Pollichia campestris

Management of HIV-AIDS

6

6

100

Melia azeadarach

Management of HIV-AIDS

12

12

100

Adansonia digitata

Management of HIV-AIDS

9

12

75

Geigeria aspera

Stomach related infections

18

18

100

Tragia dioica

Stomach related infections

8

8

100

Solanum aculeastrum

Stomach related infections

12

12

100

Solanum mauritianum

Stomach related infections

21

21

100

Solanum supicum

Stomach related infections

6

6

100

Securidaca longipedunculata

Aphrodisiac for men

20

29

69

Hypoxis haemerocallidea

Aphrodisiac for men

10

20

50

Cannabis sativa

Vaal sick

7

11

64

Tallinum caffrum

Heart related infections

6

6

100

Schotia brachypetala

Diarrhoea

6

6

100

Strychnos spinosa

Diarrhoea

6

8

75

Acacia karoo

Diarrhoea

6

6

100

Urginea sanguinea

Blood purifier

7

19

37

Jatropha erythropoda

Blood purifier

10

10

100

Withania somnifera

Gynaecological complaints

14

14

100

Ipomoea albivenia

Gynaecological complaints

6

6

100

Securidaca longipedunculata

Headache

9

29

31

Cannabis sativa

Headache

4

11

36

Neorautanenia mitis

Footache

12

12

100

Nerium oleander

Toothache

2

4

50

Sida cordifolia

High blood pressure

6

6

100

Vitis vinifera

High blood pressure

3

5

60

Azanza gackeana

Painful joints

3

3

100

Kirkia acuminata

Fractured bones

4

4

100

Aloe marlothii

Ethno-veterinary infections

3

6

50

Urginea sanguinea

Ethno-veterinary infections

7

19

37

Cassia abbreviata

Diabetes

3

18

17

Pterodiscus kellerianus

New born babies

18

18

100

Ehretia rigida

New born babies

7

7

100

Grewia flavescens

New born babies

6

8

75

Jartoha zeyheri

Eye infections

14

26

53

Elephantorrhiza burkei

Eye infections

10

36

27

Ximenia americana

Asthma

4

11

36

Dichrostachys cinerea

Vomiting

4

7

57

Gymnosporia senegalensis

Vomiting

4

15

27

Cynodon dactylon

Tonsillitis

3

3

100

Ziziphus mucronata

Tonsillitis

3

4

75

Catharanthus roseus

Skin infections

7

11

63

Terminalia sericea

Skin infections

10

23

43

Aloe marlothii

Skin infections

3

14

21

Gardenia volkensii

Chest complaints

3

4

75

Cassia abbreviata

Anti-poison

3

18

17

Blepharis diversispina

Deceased’ wife

23

29

79

Cucumis hirsuta

Deceased’ wife

26

26

100

Ziziphus mucronata

Sores and wounds

1

4

25

Carissa edulis

Sores and wounds

3

13

23

Peucedanum sulcatum

General medicine

11

11

100

Ipomoea alba

General medicine

11

11

100

Ipomoea spp

General medicine

3

4

75

Combination studies and plant species with Frerequency index ≥70

Eight medicinal plants species such as Elephantorrhiza elephantine, Waltheria indica, Securidaca longipedunculata, Blepharis diversispina, Peltophorum africanum, Cissus quadrangularis, Sclerocarrya birrea and Elephantorrhiza burkei reported FI value ≥70 hence have some pharmacological activities reported from literature (Table 6). About 12 combinations of medicinal plants species have been recorded in the current study (Table 7). Waltheria indica appeared in six of the 12 combinations, accounting to 50% and is used in the treatment of stomach ache, sexually transmitted infections, infertility, diarrhoea and strengthening of immunity in new born babies.
Table 6

Reported biological activity of the plant species with FI value ≥70

Plant species

Relevant Biological activities reported by other authors

References

Blepharis diversispina

None reported

None Reported thus far.

Sclerocarrya birrea

Analgesic, anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial, anti-proliferative, anti-oxidant, pro-apoptotic, anti-diarrhoeal,

[54, 55, 56, 57]

Elephantorrhiza burkei

Anti-microbial, Anti-inflammatory;

[37, 45]

Peltophorum africanum

Anti-HIV, antimicrobial, anti-diabetic, anthelmintic,

[58, 59]

Waltheria indica

Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, anti-malarial, antiviral, antidiarrheal, analgesic anti-inflammatory

[60, 61]

Securidaca longipedunculata

Antimicrobial, anti-malarial, anthelmintic, anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, anti-oxidant, anti-parasitic

[62]

Cissus quadrangularis

Antimicrobial, Antioxidant, anti-malarial, antiviral, antidiarrheal, analgesic anti-inflammatory

[63]

Elephantorrhiza elephantina

Antimicrobial

[37]

Table 7

Reported combinations of various plant species in treating infections

Combination number

Main Medicinal plants

Other medicinal plants added

Condition treated

Mode of administration

1.

Peltophorum africanum, stem bark

A handful of Elephantorrhiza burkei roots, Cassia abbreviata stem bark, three nodes of Cissus quadrangularis

Dropsy and other STIs on a patient without sores

The mixture is cooked in 2 L of tap water in a clay pot and the patient have to inhale the heat coming out of pot for three consecutive days.

2

Elephatorrhiza elephantina, roots

A handful of Jatropha zeyheri root bark.

Eye infections

The two plant specimen are immersed in about 500 mL water and the resulting solution is used to wash eyes until healed.

3.

Melia azeadarach,

Leaves

A handful of Carpobrotus eludis leaves and Catharanthus roseus leaves

Shingles

The leaves of the three plant species are chopped and added into a bath with mild water and the patient is washed for three consecutive days, three times a day or until the reddishness subsides.

4.

Cassia abbreviata,

stem bark

A handful of Elephantorhiza burkei roots and Catharanthus roseus roots

Generally used to treat sexually transmitted infections.

The mixture is cooked in 1 L tap water and a full cup is taken orally, along a ground Peltophorum africanum stem bark, until the infection heals completely.

5.

Cassia abbreviata, Stem bark

A handful of Blepharis diversispina roots, Elephantorrhiza burkei roots, Jatropha zeyheri roots, Cissus quadrangularis and Peltophorum africanum stem bark

Generally used to treat sexually transmitted infections.

The plant materials are cooked in a 2 L water and half a cup of the resulting solution is drunk three times a day until the infection heals completely.

6.

Cassia abbreviata, Stem bark

Pollichia campestris roots, “Matshilana” roots, Waltheria indica roots and a handful of the “Pitsa ya badisha” bulb

Sexually transmitted infections and opportunistic infections.

The plant materials are cooked in about 3 L water and two cups are taken daily

7.

Punica granatum,

Roots

Hapargophythum procumbens roots, Waltheria indica roots

Diarrhoea

The mixture is cooked in a 3 L bottle, and one cup is taken along the dried and ground fruit powder from Punica granatum.

8.

Waltheria indica,

Roots

A handful of Senna italica roots, Ipomoea albivenia, Hapargophythum procumbens, Peltophorum africanum stem bark and one small cut of Cissus cornifolia bulb

Infertility

The mixture is cooked in a 2 L tap water and half a cup of the resulting tea like solution is drunk twice a day, treating infertility.

9.

Waltheria indica, Roots

A handful of various Solanum species, Geigeria aspera and Senna italica roots

Stomach aches and diarrhoea

The mixture is cooked in 2 L tap water and half a cup of the resulting solution may be drunk as often as possible, until the condition is treated.

10.

Grewia flavescens, roots

A handful of Waltheria indica roots, Pterodiscus kellerianus roots, “Matshilana” roots, Senna italica roots and any three different Solanum species roots

New born meal that strengthen the immunity and general growth of new born babies.

The plants are cooked in a 3 L tap water and the resulting solution is generally called ‘disha’ and is sucked by babies in a milk bottle.

11.

Ipomoea bolusiana, bulb

A handful of and Cissus cornifolia and Pollichia campestris.

Foot ache

The mixture is cooked in a 3 L clay pot, inhaled while still hot. When the heat cools off, the resulting mixture is poured into a bin and then used to wash the legs. The procedure is only done in the evening or during the night, once a day until the pain and infection heals.

12.

Schotia brachypetala.

A handful of Psidium guajava roots and Dovyalis spp

Diarrhoea

The plant materials are cooked in a 2 L water and a full cup of the resulting solution is reacted with half a spoon of ground seeds of Punica granatum. The solution is mixed and then taken orally three times a day until diarrhoea subsides.

Discussions

Demographic information and diversity of use of plant species

Traditional knowledge is mainly transferred from one generation to the next through mouth and such information may evacuate and disappear for good with time or becomes limited as life evolves [29, 30]. The demographic information of selected informant’s data shows that males (55%) dominates in the traditional knowledge compared to 45% of females. Contrarily, other authors reported the females to dominate in the traditional knowledge [31, 32].

The families such as Fabaceae and Malvaceae are dominant in the current study, reporting 14.63 and 8.54% respectively. The dominance of the Fabaceae has also been reported several times in ethnobotanical surveys at different localities [33] world-wide. The use of the branches, sap and seeds were all reported to be much lesser. In the current study, the use of the underground plant part contributes (58.6%), while stem bark reported 13.1%. The use of underground, stem bark and whole plant (especially herbs which are uprooted) is of major concern as it is extremely detrimental to the health of the plant species and may lead to plant species extinction.

The informant consensus agreement

The technique is designed to highlight medicinal plant species that have a healing potential for a specific major illness. The plant species in major disease category, with FIC values of 1 or very close to 1 indicate a high rate of informant consensus on plant species used against the major specific illness [28]. In the current work, the plant species used in the treatment of joints, fractured bones, anti-poison, aphrodisiac, chest complaints, tonsillitis, asthma, vaal-sick and toothache reported FIC values of 1. A similar trend has been observed elsewhere in other countries [34, 35]. However, it should be noted that the number of species in the above mentioned ailment categories is also equivalent to1.

Fidelity levels (FL) of the preferred medicinal plant species

Fidelity level is designed to reveal the percentage of informants claiming the use of a certain plant for the same purpose [36]. FL values of documented plant species are reported in Table 5.

In the current study, about 25 species revealed FL value of 100% against variety of diseases, suggesting that the informant’s state of knowledge is common when it comes to the uses of such plant species. Although Mimusops zeyheri and Raphionacme hirsuta revealed FL value of 100%, there is no data in the literature supporting the pharmacological effect of such species against pathogenic strains belonging to the traditional sphere of sexually transmitted infections.

It should also be noted that three plant species, such as Bauhinia galpinii, Elephantorrhiza burkei and Cassia abbreviata, from family Fabaceae appeared as some of the preferred plant species used against sexually transmitted infections, eye infections and as anti-poison respectively. Furthermore, Peltophorum africanum, Eephantorrhiza elephantine, Elephantorrhiza burkei and revealed frequency index (FI) values of 78, 85 and 90 respectively (Table 2). These data suggests that the family Fabaceae is generally important and used in the treatment of various human and animal infections. Although E. burkei in the current study is preferred to treat eye infections, it was also reported in the treatment of diarrhoea within other Bapedi groups [37]. These difference may well suggest that the traditional knowledge on use of plant species in the treatment of infections may differ from one locality to the other. Although the current work revealed most preferred species used in the treatment of various pathogenic infections, the biological activity of such medicinal plants still needs to be explored and verified experimentally. Furthermore, the plant species with high FL values are of greater importance in treating the related human and animal infections from the study site.

Plant uses and ailments treated

The plant species reported in the current study are mostly used for treatment of human and animal infections while others are used for magical purposes. The most reported plant species are used in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections (24) followed by those used in the management of HIV-AIDS related infections (15), stomach ache (14) and plant species used in the treatment of ethno-veterinary infections (9). These results agrees with those of Peltzer et al., [38] who reported sexually transmitted infections to be mostly encountered and treated by African traditional healers. Amazingly, only a single plant each is reported to be used to treat pulmonary infections, mellitus diabetes and asthma.

Out of all the named medicinal plants in our survey, Gardenia volskensii is the only plant species reported to treat pulmonary related infections including tuberculosis. However, some of our informants revealed that for such purposes, bones from the chest of the Ostrich and nest of a dove “leeba” are chopped together and then administered to the patient. We found this difficult to validate scientifically as the doves may use different plant materials to build the nest and the age and gender of the ostrich was not identified in any of our informants. Solanum species are used to treat stomach related illnesses. One of our informants revealed that a mixture of a variety of Solanum species is the perfect solution to various stomach disorders and further used a name “Merolanarolana” referring to variety of such species when hiding the prescription form the patients. It should be noted that from the multi-purpose plant species reported, 28% species bears fruits and are identified as food plants as well. According to our informants, the use of the species as foodstuffs is not very important as there are no markets for such fruits within the study sites. However, the fruits are used as addition to foods within families and also eaten by boys when shepherding the cows on the mountains. The treatment of infections is more important than the food value. For the purpose of food, the indigenous people are reliant upon the agricultural crops such as maize, wheat, potatoes and leafy vegetables which are grown mainly during the summer season.

Magical and ethno-veterinary plants species

Out of 82 plant species reported in the study, about 12 plants are used for magical purposes, while 9 species are used in the treatment of various ethno-veterinary infections. Sarcostema acidium and Cassia abbreviata are the most reported magical plant species with frequency index of 58 and 45 respectively (Table 2), while Elephantorrhiza burkei and Elephathorrhiza elephantina are preferred for ethnoveterinary use with frequency index of 90 and 85 respectively. Plant species reported within this category are believed to be used to doctor homesteads there by protecting them from lightning, dispel the witches, returning some illnesses and calling upon some ancestral spirits. Cassia abbreviata is used for many other uses in various communities. However, the Pedi tribe use the multi-stemmed species mostly in the doctoring of homesteads. The multi-stems (Fig. 5) are believed to symbolise the number of huts in the family that might comprise of extended family members and a number of wives belonging to one husband [39].
Fig. 5

Multi-stemmed Cassia abbreviata

Food plants

Out of 82 plant species, 23 plants (28%) bear fruits are identified as food plants. Strychnos madagascariensis and Psidium guajava reported the highest FI value of 58, each while Azanza garckeana reported the lowest FI value of 5. Our current report corroborate that of Musina and Maroyi [40] who reported species such as Scleorcarrya birrea, Mangifera indica, Psidium guajava, Punica granatum and Vanguera infausta being used as food plants within Capricorn District, Limpopo Province. According to our knowledge, Cissus cornifolia was reported the first time within the country as a food source. However, it should be noted that the ethnobotanical survey of both the domesticated and wild edible fruits as sources of food within the Province is lagging behind and still needs to be enormously explored.

Significance of names of plant species

Some plant species in the study are named either according to their physical morphological features, growth form or their role in the traditional indigenous medicine. Urginea sanguinea is commonly known as “Sekanama” which means “like meat” referring to the blades from the bulb of the plant species and its reddish colour. Ximmenia caffra is called “Motshidikgomo”. Ximmenia species are generally called “Motshidi”, while the word “kgomo” means cow, which a symbol of a bigger material or object is referring to the size of the fruit of species which is bigger than other Ximmenia species. Hypoxis haemerocallidea is known as “Monna wa maledu” referring to the beed-like structures protruding from the bulb and it translates to “a man with beed”. “Makgonatsohle” is a plant species which is generally used to treat all illnesses relating to stomach and it translates to “cure all” referring to the ability of the plant species to cure all illnesses. Although there is a general trend that all reddish medicinal plants are used to cleanse the blood.

“Thotamadi” is the name given to plant species and is generally believed to cleanse the bloodstream much better than all other species. “Madi” means blood. Cissus quadrangularis is indigenously known as “Mohlabadipoo”. The word “hlaba” means stabbing or pinching, referring to the pinching-like feeling that a patient generally feels after fumigation of the plant species. Waltheria indica is known as Mokhutesela, refereeing to the ability of the plant species to cool the stomach. “Khuta” means heals or stops the roaring or ripens. Asparagus exuvialis is the plant species which the indigenous family that have a function at home normally burns to disperse the clouds that may cause rain when there are blackish or dark clouds which are associated with evil spirits. The idea is to let the rain come back at a later time interval. “Phatlalatsa” means disperse while “maru” refers to clouds.

Capobrotus eludis is indigenously called “tima” which means cooling off, referring to the ability of the plant species to cool off the pain, heat and fever associated with shingles, which is also known as “belt” (lepanta). Senna italica is commonly called “Morotelatshotshi”. In Sepedi, the word “tshotshi” refers to ants, while “moroto” means urine, which generally refers to the yellowish colour of the resulting liquid after immersing the roots in water overnight. The yellow colour may be coming out of the root kernels which are light yellow when matured. The plant species grows in abandoned ploughing land and always have ants in close proximity everywhere it grows. Indigenous taxonomy therefore makes more sense to the traditional community than the scientific society.

Mode of administration

In the current study, 73% of species are administered orally. The results in the current study corroborate that of other authors who reported the oral route as the most common mode of medicine administration [41, 42]. Besides Securidaca longipedunculata (root bark) which is taken along with mageu, all the medicinal plants species taken orally are cooked with tap water and drunk until the infections subsides or heal completely. S. longipedunculata is reported to be extremely bitter and have a lot of “after taste” and may at times result in vomiting. The use of mageu as a carrier assist in preventing such circumstances. Elsewhere, the root bark from S. longipedunculata is mixed with that of Zanthoxylum humile and taken with soft porridge to treat erectile dysfunction [43].

Frequency index of documented plant species

Except Blepharis diversispina, all the species are reported to possess a potent antimicrobial activity against a variety of pathogenic microbial strains. In a way, the results in our current study validates the affectivity of various plant species against patahogenic microbial strains. However, it is amazing that the biological activity of extracts and isolated compounds from B. diversispina are not explored.

Medicinal plants with the highest FI value have related ethnobotanical uses in other cultures. For example, Peltophorum africanum and Elephantorrhiza burkei have been reported in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections, skin infections and diarrhoea amongst the Tswana, VhaVenda and Tsonga cultural groups and a potency on such activities have been reported as well [44, 45, 46, 47]. These species are of vital importance in the treatment of reported infections in combinations as shown below (Table 7). P. africanum has also been implicated in the treatment of various ethnoveterinary infections [48, 49, 50].

Combination studies of reported plant species

The combinations seems to be different from one traditional healer to the other. The purpose of compiling these combination studies was to assist the other researchers in selection of medicinal plant species relating to a specific illness. Earlier, [51], reported some different combination studies of related plant species, explaining that different traditional healers from different localities may use different plant species to treat different infections. The results in the current study shows that the traditional healers and plant sellers use variety of combinations in treating various ailments which includes sexually transmitted infections, eye infections, diarrhoea, and opportunistic infections associated with HIV-AIDS, new born babies illnesses and other gynaecological complaints as occurring in women. The other authors elsewhere reported the similar trend that indigenous systems use a combination of two or more plant species in treating infections [52]. However, from a scientific perspective, it may be difficult to determine which plant species contributes more active components than the others as there are a huge number of chemical compounds involved. However, these is generally believed to curb antimicrobial resistance.

Domesticated plant species

From our visits in the homes of the informants, we found species such as Withania somnifera, Ipomoea alba, Punica granatum, Carica papaya, Vangueria infausta, Sclerocarrya birrea, Kirkia acuminata, Cissus quadrangularis and Cassia abbreviata as some of the plant species grown in at least 10 homes. However, other authors reported most of the plant species found homes as part of a garden to be used only as food supplements and ornamental plants [53]. In our study, some plant species such as W. somnifera, C quadrangularis, K. acuminata and I. alba are only used as medicine used to treat variety of human and animal illnesses. When asked why only those species are being domesticated, most informants believe that the plant species are used more often than others and are gradually declining in their natural environment. However, some healers believe that some plant species are believed to be efficient in treating infections only when collected from the wild. Such healers further believes that plant species in the wild are natural and have a stronger power that comes from gods and the wind.

Conclusions

The traditional knowledge of the indigenous people of Blouberg varies from one traditional healer/ plat trader to the other. Traditional medicinal plants are mostly used in the treatment of human infections, especially sexually transmitted diseases, ethno-veterinary infections, as sources of food and for magical purposes. There is correlation in terms of ethnomedicinal use between cultures within Limpopo province. There is a need to explore the wild food plants as there is lack of data in that area of research. In the current, most plant species are used in the treatment of sexually transmitted infections, management of HIV-AIDS, stomach related infections and ethno-veterinary treatment. There is a need to further explore the possibility of documenting plant species used to treat such infections in future.

Notes

Acknowledgements

Sylvester Lethulatshipi, Benjamin Mokgehle, Tlou Mongalo, Terrence Mongalo, Clerrence Mongalo, Ofentse Mongalo, Mphasha Molefe and Lethabo Mashita assisted with field work, plant collection and data gathering. The authors are also thankful to the traditional healers and the plant sellers who contributed their knowledge towards the successful completion of the research work.

Funding

The authors would like to express their deepest gratitude to the National Research Foundation (Grant Unique Number 94179, University of South Africa) for financial support to conduct this research.

Availability of data and materials

Raw data is contained in questionnaire forms and cannot be shared in this form.

Authors’ contributions

MTJ contributed to the proposal of the idea. MTJ and MNI carried out the field work laboratory work and data analysis while MTJ wrote the first draft. MNI collected, pressed, identified and contributed to the statistical analysis, ethnobotanical assistance, and wrote the final draft. MTJ is the Director of Research at Mangosuthu University of Technology (South Africa), while MNI is a laboratory Technician under Plant Sciences (University of South Africa), Florida Campus. Both authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Ethics approval and consent to participate

This study was approved by the University of South Africa’s Research Ethics Committee. Before conducting interviews, all participants signed the consent form.

Consent for publication

This manuscript does not contain any individual person’s data and therefore, there is no further consent is required for publication.

Competing interests

The authors declares that they have no conflict of interest.

Publisher’s note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

References

  1. 1.
    Statistics South Africa, 2011. Provincial profile: Limpopo Census 2011, Report No. 03–01-78.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    York T, De Wet H, Van Vuuren SF. Plants used for treating respiratory infections in rural Maputaland, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;135:696–710.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Corrigan BM, Van Wyk BE, Geldenhuys CJ, Jardine JM. Ethnobotanical plant uses in the Kwa-Nibela peninsula, St Lucia, South Africa. S Afr J Bot. 2011;77:346–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Chinsembu KC. Ethnobotanical study of medicinal flora utilised by traditional healers in the management of sexually transmitted infections in Sesheke District, Western Province, Kenya. Brazillian J Pharmacognosy. 2016;26:268–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Semenya SS, Potgieter MJ. Bapedi traditional healers in the Limpopo Province, South Africa: their socio-cultural profile and traditional healing practice. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2014;10:4.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Semenya SS, Maroyi A. Medicinal plants used by the Bapedi traditional healers to treat diarrhoea in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012;144:395–401.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Semenya SS, Potgieter MJ, Erasmus LJC. Indigenous plant species used by Bapedi healers to treat sexually transmitted infections: their distribution, harvesting conservation and threats. S Afr J Bot. 2013;87:66–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Mahwasane ST, Middleton L, Boaduo N. An ethnobotanical survey of indigenous knowledge on medicinal plants used by the traditional healers of the Lwamondo area, Limpopo Province, South Africa. S Afr J Bot. 2013;88:69–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Masevhe NA, McGaw LJ, Eloff JN. The traditional use of plants to manage candidiasis and related infections in Venda, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015;168:364–72.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Van Wyk BE, De Wet H, Van Heerden FR. An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants in the south eastern Karoo, South Africa. S Afr J Bot. 2008;74:696–704.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Ajibesin KK, Ekpo BA, Bala DN, Essien EE, Adesanya SA. Ethnobotanical survey of Akwa Ibom state of Nigeria. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;115:387–408.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Jeruto P, Lukhoba C, Ouma G, Otieno D, Mutai C. An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used by the Nandi people of Kenya. J Ethnopharmacol. 2008;116:370–6.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Maroyi A. An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plans used by the people of Nhema communal area, Zimbabwe. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;136:347–54.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Kose LS, Moteetee A, Van Vuuren S. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used in the Maseru District of Lesotho. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015;170:184–200.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Nortje JM, Van Wyk BE. Medicinal plants of the Kamiesberg, Namaqualand, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015;171:205–22.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Karimi A, Majlesi M, Rafieian-Kopaei M. Herbal versus synthetic drugs; beliefs and facts. J Nephropharmacology. 2015;4(1):27–30.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Tshikalange TE, Meyer JJM, Hussein AA. 2005. Antimicrobial activity, toxicity and the isolation of a bioactive compound from plants used to treat sexually transmitted diseases. J Ethnopharmacol. 2005;96:515–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Taylor JLS, Rabe T, McGaw LJ, Jäger AK, Van Staden J. Towards the scientific validation of traditional medicinal plants. Plant Growth Regul. 2001;34:23–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Afolayan AJ, Grierson DS, Mbeng WO. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used in the management of skin disorders among the Xhosa communities of the Amathole District, eastern cape, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol. 2014;153:220–32.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Gail H, Tarryn B, Oluwaseyi A, Denver D, Oluchi M, Charlotte VK, Joop DJ, Diana G. An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used by traditional health practitioners to manage HIV and its related opportunistic infections in Mpoza, eastern Cape Province, South Africa. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015;171:109–15.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Tchouya GRF, Souza A, Tchouankeu JC, Yala JF, Boukandou M, Foundikou H, Obiang GDN, Boyom FF, Mabika RM, Menkem EZ, Ndinteh DT, Lebibi J. Ethnopharmacological surveys and pharmacological studies of plants used in traditional medicine in the treatment of HIV-AIDS opportunistic diseases in Gabon. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015;162:306–16.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Mongalo NI. Antibacterial activities of selected medicinal plants used to treat sexually transmitted infections in Blouberg area, Limpopo Province. MSc dissertation, University of Zululand, republic of south Africa 2013.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    Statistic South Africa Semi-permanent data estimated by National Department of Health in Mid-2006 by Disaggregating Province and District estimates using data from Small Area Layer. (2004–2006).Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Koné WM, Atindehou KK. Ethnobotanical inventory of medicinal plants used in traditional veterinary medicine in northern cote d’Ivore (West Africa). S Afr J Bot. 2008;74:76–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Madikizela B, Ndhlala AR, Finnie JF, Van Staden J. An ethnobotanical study of plants from Pondoland used against diarrhoea. J Ethnopharmacol. 2012;141:61–71.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Chinsembu KC, Negumbo J, Likando M, Mbangu A. An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants used to treat livestock diseases in Onayena and Katima Mulilo, Namibia. S Afr J Bot. 2014;94:101–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Kankara SS, Ibrahim MH, Mustafa M, Go R. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used for traditional maternal healthcare in Katsina state, Nigeria. S Afr J Bot. 2015;97:165–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Tugume P, Kakudidi EK, Buyinza M, Namaalwa J, Kamatenesi M, Mucunguzi P, Kalema J. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plant species used by communities around Mabira central Forest reserve, Uganda. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2016;12:5.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Inngjerdingen K, Nergard CS, Diallo D, Mounkoro PP, Paulse BS. An ethnopharmacological survey of plants used for wound healing in Dogonland, Mali, West Africa. J Ethnopharmacol. 2004;92:233–44.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Gakuya DW, Itonga SM, Mbaria JM, Muthee JK, Musau JK. Ethnobotanical survey of biopesticides and other medicinal plants traditionally used in Meru central district of Kenya. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;145:547–53.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Davids D, Gibson D, Johnson Q. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used to manage high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes mellitus in Bitterfontein, western cape. Province J Ethnopharmacology. 2016;194:755–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Urso V, Signorini MA, Tonini M, Bruschi P. Wild medicinal and food plants used by communities living in mopane woodlands of southern Angola:results of an ethnobotanical field investigation. J Ethnopharmacol. 2016;177:126–39.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Cheikhyoussef A, Shapi M, Matengu K, Ashekele HM. Ethnobotanical study of indigenous knowledge on medicinal plant use by traditional healers in Oshikoto region. Namibia J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010;7:10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Uddin MZ, Hassan A. Determination of informant consensus factor of ethnomedicinal plants used in Kalenga forest, Bangladesh. Bangladesh J Plant Taxonomy. 2014;21:83–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Song MJ, Kim H, Heldenbrand B, Jeon J, Lee S. Ethnopharmacological survey of medicinal plantsin Jeju Island, Korea. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2013;9:48.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Ajibesin KA, Bala DN, Umoh UF. Ethno medicinal survey of plants used by the indigenes of rivers state of Nigeria. Pharm Biol. 2012;50:1123–43.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Mathabe MC, Nikolova RV, Lall N, Nyazema NZ. Antibacterial activities of medicinal plants used for the treatment of diarrhoea in Limpopo Province. South Africa J Ethnopharmacology. 2016;105:283–93.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Peltzer K, Mngqundaniso N, Petros G. HIV/AIDS/TB knowledge, beliefs and practices of traditional healers in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. AIDS Care. 2006;18:608–13.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  39. 39.
    Mongalo NI, Mafoko B. Cassia abbreviata Oliv. A review of its ethnomedicinal uses, toxicology, phytochemistry, possible propagation techniques and pharmacology. Afr J Pharm Pharmacol. 2013;7:2901–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. 40.
    Musina GKE, Maroyi A. Edible plants of urban domestic gardens in the Capricorn District, Limpopo Province. South Africa Tropical Ecology. 2016;57:181–91.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Otang WM, Grierson DS, Ndip RN. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used in the management of opportunistic fungal infections in HIV/AIDS patients in the Amathole district of the eastern Cape Province, South Africa. J Med Plants Res. 2012;6:2071–80.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Mesfin F, Demissew S, Teklehaymanot T. An ethnobotanical study of medicinal plants in Wonago Woreda, SNNPR, Ethiopia. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2009;5:28.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    Semenya SS, Potgieter MJ. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants used by Bapedi traditional healers to treat erectile dysfunction in the Limpopo Province. South Africa J Med Plants Res. 2013;7:49–357.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Mulaudzi RB, Ndhlala AR, Kulkarni MG, Finnie JF, Van Staden J. Antimicrobial properties and phenolic contents of medicinal plants used by the Venda people for conditions related to venereal diseases. J Ethnopharmacol. 2011;135:330–7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Mulaudzi RB, Ndhlala AR, Kulkarni MG, Finnie JF, Van Staden J. Anti-Inflammatory and anti-mutagenic evaluation of medicinal plants used by the Venda people against venereal and related diseases. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;146:173–9.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Van Wyk B, Gericke N. Peoples’ plants: a guide to useful plants of southern Africa, 2007; First Edition, Third Impression, Briza Publications, Pretoria p. 130.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Moeng TE. An investigation into the trade of medicinal plants by muthi shops and street vendors in the Limpopo Province, South Africa master of science dissertation. University of Limpopo, south. Africa. 2010;Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Motlhanka DMT, Nthoiwa GP. Ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants of Tswapong north, in eastern Botswana: a case of plants from Mosweu and Seolwane villages. European J Med Plants. 2013;3:10–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Moreki JC. Use of ethnoveterinary medicine in family poultry health management in Botswana: a review. J Vet Adv. 2012;2:254–60.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    Moreki JC, Tshireletso K, Okoli IC. Potential use of ethnoveterinary medicine for retained plancenta in cattle in Mogonono. Botswana J Anim Prod Adv. 2012;2:303–9.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Mongalo NI. Antibacterial activities of selected medicinal plants used to treat Sex Transm Infect in Blouberg area, Limpopo Province. MSC Dissertation: University of Zululand; 2013.Google Scholar
  52. 52.
    Simbo DJ. An ethnobotanical survey of medicinal plants in Babungo, northwest region, Cameroon. J Ethnobiol Ethnomed. 2010;6:8.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  53. 53.
    Licata L, Tuttolomondo T, Leto C, Virga G, Bonsangue G, Cammalleri I, Gennaro MC, La Bella S. A survey of wild plant species for food use in Sicily (Italy) – results of a 3-year study in four regional parks. J Ethnobiology Ethnomedicine. 2016;12:12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Galvez J, Zarzuelo A, Crespo ME, Utrilla MP, Jiménez J, Spiessens C, De Witte P. Antidiarrhoeic activity of Sclerocarya birrea bark extract and its active tannin constituent in rats. Phytother Res. 1991;5:276–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Ojewole JAO. Evaluation of the analgesic, anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties of Sclerocarrya birrea (a. Rich.) Hochst. Stem bark aqueous extract in mice and rats. Phytother Res. 2004;18:601–8.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Tanih NF, Ndip RN. 2013. The acetone extract of Sclerocarrya birrea (Anacardiaceae) possess anti-proliferative and apoptotic potential against human breast cancer cell lines (MCF-7). The scientific world journal 2013; article ID956206.Google Scholar
  57. 57.
    Armentano MF, Bisaccia F, Miglionico R, Russo D, Nolfi N, Carmosino M, Andrade PB, Valentẵo P, Diop MS, Milella L. Antioxidant and proapoptotic activities of Sclerocarrya birrea [(a. Rich.) Hochst] methanolic root extracton the hepatocellular carcinoma cell line HepG2. Biomed Res Int 2015; Article ID561589.45.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Mazimba, O. Pharmacology and phytochemistry studies in Peltophorum africanum. Bulletin in Faculty of Pharmacy, Cairo University 2014;52, 145–153.Google Scholar
  59. 59.
    Mongalo NI. Peltophorum africanum Sond [Mosetlha]: a review of its ethnomedicinal uses, toxicology, phytochemistry and pharmacological activities. J Med Plants Res. 2013;7:3484–91.Google Scholar
  60. 60.
    Zongo F, Ribout C, Boumendjel A, Guissou I. Botany, traditional uses, phytochemistry and pharmacology of Waltheria indica L. (syn. Waltheria Americana): a review. J Ethnopharmacol. 2013;148:14–26.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    Mongalo NI, Opoku AR, Zobolo AM. Antibacterial and antioxidant activity of the extracts of Waltheria indica Linn. Collected from, Capricorn District, Limpopo Province, South Africa. J Med Plant Res. 2012;43:5593–8.Google Scholar
  62. 62.
    Mongalo NI, McGaw LJ, Finnie JF, Van Staden J. Seruridaca longipedunculata Fresen. A review of its ethnomedicinal uses, phytochemistry, pharmacological properties and toxicology. J Ethnopharmacol. 2015;165:215–26.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  63. 63.
    Mishra G, Srivastava S, Nagori BP. Pharmacological and therapeutic activity of Cissus quadrangularis: an overview. Int J PharmTech Research. 2010;2:1298–310.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s). 2018

Open AccessThis article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nkoana Ishmael Mongalo
    • 1
  • Tshepiso Jan Makhafola
    • 2
  1. 1.College of Agriculture and Environmental Science (CAES) LaboratoriesUniversity of South AfricaJohannesburgSouth Africa
  2. 2.Research, Innovation & Engagements PortfolioMangosuthu University of TechnologyDurbanSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations