C BOTANICAL NAME: Warburgia Salutaris
C ENGLISH NAME: Warburgia
C FAMILY: Canellaceae
C COMMON NAME: Pepper-Bark Tree, fever tree
! SHONA NAME: muranga
C COATES PALGRAVE NUMBER 720
A slender tree or round bush normally 5 to 10 meters in height with rough rich brown bark and glossy dark green, elliptic leaves which are paler green and dull on the undersurface.
Flowers are white to greenish up to 7mm in diameter on their own or in a tight few flowered head.
The fruit is a berry up to 4cm in diameter - black when mature and leathery - usually appear in October/November.
The heartwood is pale green, oily and aromatic when first cut - drying darker when exposed to the air and loosing its aromatic properties.
It is not a enduring wood and therefore is not cut for any purpose other than medicine.
Its natural habitat is the Chipinge area of Zimbabwe, and to countries north of Zambia and Malawi. It also occurs in the very north east of South Africa and in Zululand. In Zimbabwe there are now no examples of this tree growing in its natural locality - one example is found in the Ruwa area and another - taken as a cutting from this tree - in Harare. The National Botanical Gardens in Harare have imported a few seedlings in hope of growing these to maturity.
MEDICINAL USES IN ZIMBABWE
This plant has been used medicinally from early times.
PARTS OF THE PLANT AND USAGES
It is also given magical properties and is used in:
The leaves are used to flavour curries and can be easily identified by their burning peppery taste. Although this usage is East African it is interesting to note that the tree can easily be identified by this particular quality.
THE GROWING OF WARBURGIA SALUTARIS
Little attempt has been made to grow this tree under controlled conditions and as it now faces extinction it could be too later.
Cutting have been taken from the specimen in Harare and some small plants have been grown by Mr. John Cotteril in Bindura from these cuttings. A nursery in the area has also taken a selection of cuttings and we understand that these have also survived.
Further work will be done this year to propagate from cuttings and it is hoped to be able to return specimens to the wild within a few years.
COPYRIGHT O. LIND 12 October 1995
Indigenous healing plants
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