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Family: Meliaceae

Scientific name: Turraea obtusifolia

Authority: Hochst.

Synonym: Turraea oblancifolia Brem. 

Zulu names: amazulu, ikhambi lomsinga, inkunzi, inkunzi ebomvana, umhlatholana, uswazi

Other names: lesser honeysuckle tree, small honeysuckle tree, wild honeysuckle (English) kleinkamperfoelieboom (Afrikaans)

Plant description: T. obtusifolia is a small tree (or scrambling shrub) that grows in the bushveld, coastal dunes and rocky hills. It has variable narrow-to-broad leaves that are either deeply, narrowly, and scarcely lobed, solitary white flowers, and reddish-orange loculicidal capsule fruits containing 6-10 seed pods. 

Every part of this plant is considered very poisonous.


  • The roots are used to make an infusion that is administered as enema to treat gastro-intestinal complaints.
  • The root infusion is used to make porridge that is eaten to treat stomach ache.
  • The root infusion is administered as a drastic purgative. Take caution as this is strongly cathartic. 
  • The roots are boiled and the decoction taken as a drink to treat chronic cough. 
  • The plant is used as a blood purifier. 
  • The roots are used as an insecticide against small fruit flies.

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: 

  • Cunningham, A.B., 1988. An investigation of the herbal medicine trade in Natal KwaZulu. Institute of Natural Resources Investigative Report Issue 29. Institute of Natural Resources, Pietermaritzburg.
  • Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G., and Cunningham, A., 1996. Zulu medicinal plants. Natal University Press, Pietermaritzburg.
  • Madikizela, B., Ndhlala, A.R., Finnie, J.F. and Van Staden, J., 2012. Ethnopharmacological study of plants from Pondoland used against diarrhoea. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 141(1), pp.61-71.
  • Sarker, S.D., Savchenko, T., Whiting, P., Sik, V. and Dinan L., 1997. Two limonoids from Turraea obtusifolia (Meliaceae), prieurianin and rohitukin, antagonise 20- hydroxyecdysone action in a Drosophila cell line. Archives of Insect Biochemistry and Physiology, 8(6), pp. 165-167
  • Semenya, S.S. and Maroyi, A., 2019. Ethnobotanical survey of plants used by Bapedi traditional healers to treat tuberculosis and its opportunistic infections in the Limpopo Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany, 122, pp.401-421.
  • Shilaluke, K.C., 2021. Antifeedant and insecticidal activities of members of the family Meliaceae in South Africa. University of Johannesburg (South Africa).
  • Watt, J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G., 1962. Medicinal and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. second edition. Livingstone, London.
  • White, F., 1986. The taxonomy, chorology and reproductive biology of southern African Meliaceae and Ptaeroxylaceae. Bothalia, 16(2), pp.143-168.

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