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Family: Araucariaceae

Scientific name: Araucaria heterophylla

Authority: (Salisb.) Franco

Synonyms: Araucaria excelsa var. glauca Carrière, Eutacta excelsa var. aurea-variegata Carrière, Eutacta excelsa var. glauca (Carrière) Carrière, Eutacta excelsa var. monstrosa Carrière, Eutacta excelsa var. variegata-alba Carrière, Eutassa heterophylla Salisb.

Zulu names: abangqongqozi, abangqongqosi

Other names: Australian pine, house pine, living Christmas tree, Norfolk island pine, Norfolk pine, polynesian pine, star pine, triangle tree

Plant description: A. heterophylla is a non-native conifer (alien) tree that is sold in the traditional medicine markets in South Africa. It is native to Norfolk Island, in the Pacific Ocean. The tree grows up to 65 m in height, a rough grey bark with distinct horizontal striations and red brown spots underneath, and exudes resin from the stem.


  • The bark is used as a love charm. The tree is named abangqongqozi, which means “knocking on the door”, because the bark is used to make an infusion that can knock on the door of the lost lover, to remember you. 
  • The bark is added as an ingredient in the preparation of umuthi obovu.
  • The aerial part is used to treat toothache and for extracting teeth. 
  • The resin has gastro-protective activities, hence it is used against stomach ulcers.
  • The resin is used as an insecticide against mosquitoes and cow lice.
  • When young, the tree is used as a Christmas tree.

In general the tree is used as follows:

  • It is used to treat rheumatism.
  • It is used to treat contusions (or bruises).
  • It is used to treat respiratory infection.
  • It is used as an antiseptic. 
  • It is used to make an emollient. 
  • It is used to make essential oils.

Safety precaution:

Using traditional medicine responsibly can enhance your overall health and well-being. Misuse and abuse can lead to complications. You can inquire about the correct use of traditional medicine from a knowledgeable herbalist and practitioner. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine

References and further reading: 

  • Abd-ElGawad, A.M., Saleh, I., El-Razek, M.H.A., Elkarim, A.S.A., El-Amier, Y.A., Mohamed, T.A., El Gendy, A.E.N.G., Afifi, S.M., Esatbeyoglu, T. and Elshamy, A.I., 2023. Chemical Profiling of Significant Antioxidant and Phytotoxic Microwave-Extracted Essential Oil from Araucaria heterophylla Resin. Separations, 10(2), pp.141.
  • Abdel-Sattar, E., Monem, A.R.A., Ezzat, S.M., El-Halawany, A.M. and Mouneir, S.M., 2009. Chemical and biological investigation of Araucaria heterophylla Salisb. resin. Zeitschrift für Naturforschung C, 64(11-12), pp.819-823.
  • Aslam, M.S., Choudhary, B.A., Uzair, M. and Ijaz, A.S., 2013. Phytochemical and ethno-pharmacological review of the genus Araucaria–review. Tropical Journal of Pharmaceutical Research, 12(4), pp.651-659.
  • Bussmann RW. Antibacterial activity of northern-peruvian medicinal plants, Arnaldoa 2008; 15(1), pp.127-148.
  • Hai-Sang, L.I.U. and Ci-Quan, L.I.U., 2008. Revision of two species of Araucaria (Araucariaceae) in Chinese taxonomic literature. Journal of Systematics and Evolution46(6), p.933.
  • Hernandez-Castillo, G.R., Rothwell, G.W., Stockey, R.A. and Mapes, G., 2003. Growth architecture of Thucydia mahoningensis, a model for primitive walchian conifer plants. International Journal of Plant Sciences164(3), pp.443-452.
  • Khumalo, G.P., 2018. An inventory of the most popular medicinal barks sold on Johannesburg muthi markets and the antimicrobial activity of selected extracts and isolated chemical compounds. University of Johannesburg (South Africa). 
  • Mifsud, S., 2002. Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island Pine): MaltaWildPlants. com-the online Flora of the Maltese Islands.
  • Schans, A.V.D., Schokman, L.M, and Cloudy, J.B., 2004. Tropical and subtropical trees. Thames & Hundsen Ltd. Holbom, London, pp. 30. 
  • The plant list. 2012. Version 1.1. Published on the internet: (accessed 09 May 2023).

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