The ethnobotany and antimicrobial activity of selected medicinal plants from Ga-Mashashane, Limpopo Province, South Africa

L. A. Papo, S. F. Van Vuuren, A. N. Moteetee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Ethnopharmacological relevance: Despite the numerous ethnobotanical surveys carried out in the Limpopo Province in recent years, certain areas such as Ga-Mashashane have hitherto not been investigated. This study has revealed some new ethnomedicinal knowledge harboured by the older people of this area. Aim of the study: The current study aims to document the ethnomedicinal information of the plant species used medicinally for the treatment of gastrointestinal, respiratory, skin, and sexually transmitted infections in the Ga-Mashashane area and to validate the use of the medicinal plant species based on their antimicrobial activities. Materials and methods: Ethnobotanical surveys were carried out using structured interviews. A selection of plant species (based on potential anti-infective purposes observed from ethnobotanical interviews) was collected, dried, and ground into fine powder. Organic and aqueous extracts were prepared. The extracts were then screened against pathogens of the gastrointestinal, respiratory, skin, and sexually transmitted infections using the micro-titre plate dilution method. Results: Forty-five species reported to treat various ailments in the study area were recorded. Of these, 22 are used for gastrointestinal disorders, followed by respiratory conditions (18 plant species), skin ailments (16 plant species) and sexually transmitted infections, treated with eight medicinal plant species. The four medicinal plant species; Drimia elata, Elaeodendron transvaalense, Ledebouria revoluta, and Ozoroa sphaerocarpa were reported to treat non-infectious diseases such as high blood pressure, asthma and inflamed/swollen. Twelve new medicinal uses were recorded from 11 species, while the use of one species, Senecio barbertonicus, is reported for the first time in the South African Materia Medica. The study also noted seven plant species with noteworthy antimicrobial activity (MIC values 0.1 mg/ml) against some of the pathogens tested. Conclusion: The study has indicated that medicinal plant utilisation in the Ga-Mashashane area concurs with other South African cultures. There is a correlation between the antimicrobial screening results and ethnobotanical uses, which validates the plants' efficacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-210
Number of pages15
JournalSouth African Journal of Botany
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2022


  • Antimicrobial
  • Ethnobotany, Ga-Mashashane, Limpopo Province, medicinal plants, South Africa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Plant Science


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