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Family: Moraceae

Scientific name: Ficus capensis

Authority: Thunb.

Synonyms: Ficus mallotocarpa Warb., Ficus sur Forssk., Sycomorus capensis (Thunb.) Miq.

Zulu names: amakhiwa, umkhiwa, amakhiwane, umakhiwane, ingobozweni, intombi kayibhinci

Other names: cauliflorous fig, broom cluster fig, bush fig, bush fig tree, Cape fig, Cape wild fig, fig of heaven, fire stick, kooman, kooman fig, malabar tree, wild fig (English) besembosvy, besemtrosvy, bosvy, bosvyboom, grootvy, koeman, komaa, suurvy, wildevy, wildevyboom (Afrikaans)

Plant description: F. capensis is a fast-growing deciduous and evergreen tree. It has large and broad leaves with irregularly serrated margins, smooth greyish-white bark, round fruits that turn reddish yellow when ripe, and spreading roots. The tree grows along rivers.

A plant that requires a ritual before harvesting. This plant is supposedly harvested by a young child that has not reached puberty or an elder that has not reached menopause. 


  • The leaves are used as a leafy green.
  • The latex is used to treat wounds and as a wound dressing. The bark is used to treat abscesses, rashes and sores. The plant is used to varicose ulcer and hemorrhoids. 
  • The plant is used in circumcision to treat circumcision wounds.
  • The latex and bark are used to treat toothache and general body pain. The leaves are used to make an infusion to treat tonsillitis.
  • The bark used to make decoctions used to bathe new-born babies. It is also used as a bathing agent for children with rickets and fever. 
  • The roots are used to treat stomach pains in babies.
  • The roots are used to treat infertility, uterine pain, and emmenagogue. It is also used as a herbal remedy for an abortion.
  • The bark is mixed with Xylopia fruits and the mixture is administered as enema to treat oedema.
  • The latex is used to treat eye problems, such as ophthalmia.
  • The bark is used to make an infusion to treat rheumatism. 
  • The latex is used to treat gonorrhoea.   
  • The bark, latex, and roots are used to treat respiratory ailments such as chest pain, fever, lung, throat problems, tuberculosis (TB).
  • The roots and bark are used to treat gastrointestinal motility, diarrhoea, and dysentery. 
  • The plant is used to treat leprosy.
  • The plant is used to treat epilepsy.
  • The plant is used as a disinfectant wash. 
  • The plant is used to treat haemolytic and sickle cell anemia.
  • The plant is used as an astringent and a diuretic. 
  • The plant is used as an emetic and purgative.
  • The plant is used as an immune booster.
  • The plant is used as a galactagogue.
  • The plant is used as an aphrodisiac.

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: 

  • Arnold, T.H. and Dewett, B.C., 1993. Plants of southern Africa: names and distribution. Mem. Bot. Surv. S. Africa, 62, pp. 23 – 27
  • Berg, C.C., 1990. Distribution of African taxa of Ficus (Moraceae). Mitteilungen aus dem Institut für Allgemeine Botanik Hamburg, pp.401-405.
  • Burkill, H.M., 1997. The useful plants of West Tropicl Africa. volume 4, families M–R. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 969pp.
  • Daikwo, O.A., Tende, J.A., Okey, S.M., Eze, E.D. and Isa, A.S., 2012. The effect of aqueous extract of leaf of Ficus capensis Thunb (Moraceae) on in vivo Leukocyte Mobilization in Wistar Rats. British Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology, 3(3), pp.110-114.
  • Esievo, K., Anthony, S., Fatokun, O. and Kunle, O., 2018. Ficus capensis Thumb.(Moraceae): review of its ethnomedicinal uses, pharmacological activities and phytochemical constituents. Archives of Current Research International, 12(3), pp.1-7.
  • Igoli, J.O., Ogaji, O.G., Tor-Aryiin, A. and Igoli, N.P., 2005.Traditional Medicinal Practices Amongst the Igede people of Nigeria. Part 11 Afr. J. Tradit. Complement. Alternat. Med. 2(2): pp.134-152.
  • Irvine, F.R., 1961. Woody plants of Ghana. Woody plants of Ghana.
  • Joshua, K., 2006. Conservation of Indigenous Medicinal Botanicals in Ekiti. State, Nigeria. Research paper.
  • Njoku, P.C. and Akumufula, M.I., 2007. Phytochemical and nutrient evaluation of Spondias mombin leaves. Pakistani J. Nutr., 6(6), pp. 613- 615.
  • Olowokudejo, J.D., Kadiri, A.B. and Travih, V.A., 2008. An ethnobotanical survey of herbal markets and medicinal Plants in Lagos State of Nigeria. Ethnobotanical Leaflets, 12, pp.851-865.
  • Onyeka, E.U. and Nwambekwe, I.O., 2007. Phytochemical profile of some green leafy vegetables in South East, Nigeria. Nigerian Food Journal, 25(1), pp. 67-72
  • Owolabi, O.J., Nworgu, Z.A., Falodun, A., Ayinde, B.A. and Nwako, C.N., 2009. Evaluation of tocolytic activity of ethanol extract of the Stem bark of Ficus capensis Thunb. (Moraceae). Acta Poloniae Pharmaceutica ñ Drug Research 66(3) pp.293–296.
  • Ruffo, C.K., Birnie, A. and Tengnas, B., 2002. Edible Wild Plants of Tanzania. Regional Land Manage Unit. Nairobi.
  • Umeokoli, B.O., Onyegbule, F.A., Gugu, T.H. and Igboeme, S.O., 2013. Evaluation of the erythropoietic and anti-sickling properties of Ficus capensis leaf extract in the treatment of anaemia. Planta Medica, 79(13), pp.PE29.

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