A survey of South African plant species used for the treatment of “u wela” in Venda culture, Limpopo Province


A survey of South African plant species used for the treatment of “u wela” in Venda culture, Limpopo Province


T.T. Ramavhalea and S.M. Mahloa

aUniversity of Limpopo, School of Molecular and Life Sciences, Department of Biodiversity, Private BagX1106, Sovenga, 0727, South Africa


International Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine

Medicinal plants are widely recognized as the key component for critical human health, social and economic support. The current study was conducted to identify medicinal plants used by local people and traditional healers to treat “u wela” in Vhembe District, Limpopo, South Africa. A questionnaire was designed to gather information on the local names of plants, plant parts used and methods of preparation administered by the traditional healers. Plant species were collected based on indigenous knowledge of local traditional healers through the use of a questionnaire and personal interviews, and some were identified using literature and herbarium at the University of Limpopo. The study revealed that thirty-seven medicinal plants are used for treatment of “u wela” in the study area. The frequency index was calculated and the highest frequency was observed in Elaeodendron transvaalensis Jacq (47%) and the least were found in Albizia versicolor Welw. Ex Oliv (6%). Some medicinal uses of identified plants which have not been recorded in the consulted literature were documented. Noticeably, many of these plants were grown in the wild. Traditional healers use different plant part(s) for the treatment of various ailments. Roots (40%) were highly used followed by 20%, bark (13%) and leaves. The plant forms used were trees, (38%), shrubs, (3%), climbers, herbs and succulents (4.7%) belonged to the herbs and succulents. The results stipulated that a high population of people in the community still relied on traditional medicine for their primary health care.


Keywords: Medicinal plants, Ethnobotanical survey, “U wela”, Indigenous knowledge

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How to cite this article:
T.T. Ramavhale and S.M. Mahlo.A survey of South African plant species used for the treatment of “u wela” in Venda culture, Limpopo Province.International Journal of Traditional and Complementary Medicine 2019, 4:15.


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