Edible Indigenous
A variety of indigenous plants have been eaten over the years.
Most are cooked before being eaten, other than fruit and some leaves
which are used as a relish.
Leaves – about 120 species are eaten
These are mostly cooked and then dry meal is added to make a green
porridge, fresh leaves are then added just before serving.
Cooked leaves are also made into cakes which are served as a side dish.
At the end of summer, leaves are dried for winter use.
Acacia caffra – Common Hook Thorn
Asparagus sp – Cats Tails Asparagus
Bulbine frutescens – Stalked Bulbine
Centella asiatica – Pennywort
Diascia integerrima – Twinspurs
Dombeya rotundifloia – Wild Pear
Eriocephalus africanus – Wild Rosemary
Hypoestes aristata – Ribbon Bush
Imperata cylindrica – Cottonwool Grass
Pavetta lanceolata – Weeping Bride’s Bush
Phoenix reclinata – Wild Date Palm
Portulacaria afra – Spekboom
Trema orientalis – Pigeon Wood
Tulbaghia violacea – Wild Garlic
Zantedescia aethiopica – Arum Lily
Zantedescia albomaculata – Arrow Leaf Arum
Fruit – about 1000 species of fruit are eaten
The fruit is either eaten raw, dried or ground into a paste which is then cooked with leaves or meal.
Berchemia zeheri – Red Ivory
Carissa macrocarpa – Big Num Num
Carpobrotus – Sour Fig
Cassinopsis illicifolia – Holly Cassinopsis, Lemon Thorn
Celtis africana – White Stinkwood
Chrysanthemoides monilifera – Bush Tick Berry
Diopsyros lycioides – Transvaal Bluebush
Diospyros simii – Star Apple
Diospyros whyteana – Bladder Nut
Dodonaea angustifolia – Sand Olive
Dovyalis caffra – Kei Apple
Dovyalis zeheri – Wild Apricot
Ehretia rigida – Puzzle Bush
Ekebergia capensis – Cape Ash
Euclea crispa – Blue Guarri
Gardenia cornuta – Natal Gardenia
Gardenia thunbergia – Starry Gardenia
Grewia occidentalis – Crossberry
Halleria lucida – Tree Fuchsia
Harpephyllum caffrum – Wild Plum
Jasminum multipartitum – Starry Wild Jasmine
Kraussia floribunda – Rhino Coffee
Mimusops zeyheri – Transvaal Red Milkwood
Ochna serrulata – Mickey Mouse Bush
Olea africana – Wild Olive
Pappea capensis – Jacket Plum
Phoenix reclinata – Wild Date Palm
Podocarpus falcatus – Outeniqua Yellowwood
Podocarpus latifolius – Real Yellowwood
Portulacaria afra – Spekboom
Rhoicissus sp
Rhus lancea – Karee
Rhus leptodycta – Mountain Karee
Scutia myrtina – Cat Thorn
Strychnos spinosa – Spinny Monkey Orange
Tabernaemontana elegans – Toad Tree
Trichilia emetica – Natal Mahogany
Typha capensis – Bullrush
Vangueria infausta – Wild Medlar
Vitex obovata – Kei Fingerleaf
Ziziphus mucronata – Buffalo Thorn
Dried, ground seed made into a porridge and mixed with milk.
Rhus sp
Schotia sp
Fresh or dried leaves are added to boiling water to make an infusion.
Buddleja auriculata – Weeping Sage
Buddleja salvifolia – Sagewood
Geranium incanum – Carpet Geranium
Olea africana – Wild Olive
Dried leaves and roots are used to make a coffee substitute .In some cases the seeds are dried, roasted and then ground for coffee.
Acacia sp
Diospyros whyteana – Bladder Nut
Strelitzia nicolai – Natal Wild Banana
Schotia sp
Ziziphus mucronata – Buffalo Thorn
Wine and beer
The process always starts with a fermented cereal or berries eg.(Marula) and frequently leaves are then used to flavour the brew eg.(Rhamnus prinoides).
Kiggelaria africana – Wild Peach
Phoenix reclinata – Wild Date Palm
Phoenix reclinata – Wild Date Palm
Vangueria infausta – Wild Medlar
Ziziphus mucronata – Buffalo Thorn
Salt substitute
Cyperus alternifolius – Umbrella Plant – burnt and the ash is used as salt
Edible roots
Agapanthus praecox – Common Agapanthus
Aponogeton distachyos – Cape Pondweed
Commiphora mossambicensis – Pepper-Leaf Corkwood
Crassula ovata – Pink Joy
Cussonia paniculata – Cabbage Tree
Markhamia acuminate
Rhoisissus tridentata – Baboon Grape
The nectar is sucked out of Aloe flowers and others are cooked with meel.
Aloe sp
Aponogeton distachyos – Cape Pondweed
Bulbine frutescens – Stalked Bulbine
Dombeya rotundifloia – Wild Pear
Ensete ventricosum – African Wild Banana
Gladiolus sp
Halleria lucida – Tree Fuchsia
Hibiscus sp
Tulbaghia acutiloba – Wild Garlic
Tulbaghia violacea – Siler Lace
Gum – chewed mainly by children
Acacia sp
In a garden environment where fertilizers are used extensively, leaves could cause nitrate poisoning .Rather collect leaves from the wild.
Unless you know what you are doing, AVOID the following:
 All plants with milky latex except for the Ficus family (figs) and Carissa family
 All mushrooms and fungi
 All fruit that look like tomatoes
 All bulbs that are onion shapes and underground tubers
Fox,FW.Norwood Young ,M.E 1992 Food from Veld Delta Books,Craighall