An ethnobotanical survey of southern African Menispermaceae

H. De Wet, B. E. Van Wyk

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


The family Menispermaceae is highly specialized in its rich diversification of biologically active bisbenzylisoquinoline alkaloids. Because of this richness the family is used worldwide in traditional medicines to treat a wide variety of ailments. An ethnobotanical survey focusing specifically on the seven genera and 13 species of this family indigenous to South Africa has yielded 64 valuable anecdotes, of which 38 are new records. Cissampelos capensis [dawidjies (wortel)] is the best known and most used medicinal plant, especially by Khoisan and other rural people in the western region of South Africa. The survey had confirmed the known medicinal uses and added several additional anecdotes for this species. Although poorly recorded and hardly ever sold on traditional medicine markets, Albertisia delagoensis and Cissampelos hirta turned out to be very important in rural areas of KwaZulu-Natal for treating a range of different ailments. Medicinal uses for Tiliacora funifera, Tinospora caffra and Tinospora tenera are recorded for the first time. A summary of all published and unpublished ethnobotanical information for southern African Menispermaceae is presented.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-9
Number of pages8
JournalSouth African Journal of Botany
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Albertisia
  • Antizoma
  • Cissampelos
  • Cocculus
  • Ethnobotany
  • Menispermaceae
  • South Africa
  • Stephania
  • Tiliacora
  • Tinospora

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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