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Cassia abbreviata (Isihaqa)

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Family: Fabaceae

Scientific name: Cassia abbreviata

Authority: Oliv

Variation: subsp. beareana (Holmes) Brenan

Common names: isihaqa (Ndebele), long-tail cassia (English), sjambokpeul (Afrikaans)

Plant description

Cassia abbreviata is called isihaqa in Ndebele and is most popular in the Zimbabwean traditional medicine market. It is a deep-rooting plant that can grows up to 10m in height. The plant grown in the grasslands, woodlands, and open bushveld ecosystems and along the rivers and hillsides. C. abbreviata is widespread in Africa and considered an endangered species in most parts of Africa. The endangered status has led to many management and protection policies being put in place to promote the sustainable use of the plant. 

Medicinal properties

C. abbreviata reportedly has a number of medicinal benefits including antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, antidiabetic, antimalarial, and anthelmintic activities. 

Uses in different parts of African

C. abbreviata can be found growing throughout the African continent and in different countries and cultures it has different uses and names.

  1. In Botswana isihaqa is called “monepenepe” – the roots are ground into powder and used to cleanse the blood. This is predominately used by women who have had a miscarriage.
  2. In Tanzania isihaqa is called “mahemba” – the roots are used to make a decoction to treat abdominal pains, fever, hernia, impotency, malaria, syphilis, and snake bites.
  3. In Mozambique isihaqa is called “lumnyama” – the roots are used to treat diarrhoea. The plant is also used as an aphrodisiac.
  4. In Kenya isihaqa is known as “malandesi” – the leaves are used to treat malaria and skin rash associated with HIV/AIDS infections.
  5. In Zimbabwe ishaqa is also known as “muremberembe” – the roots are used to treat constipation, diarrhoea, and various venereal diseases.

General uses

This plant is valuable due to most parts of the plant being used for medicinal purposes. 

  • The roots are mixed with umbombo (scientifically known as Cissampelos mucronata) to treat malaria.
  • The roots are consumed to treat stomachache and malaria. 
  • The mixture of the bark and roots is used to treat post-partum and uterus pains, issues with menstrual cycle, snake bites, and hematemesis.
  • The roots, bark, and leaves are made into a mixture that is consumed to treat stomachache.
  • The fruits are used to treat malaria and eye infections.

The plant has ornamental value, and the wood is be used as structural timber, making furniture, and fuelwood.


The different parts of the plant can be prepared in a number of ways, including the following:

  • To treat abdominal pains – steep the bark is water let the mixture sit maybe for a day and take half a cup twice a day until the pain goes away.
  • To treat ailments related to the respiratory ailment such as coughs – chew on the roots, to treat mild conditions. Also make an infusion with honey and drink as tea.
  • To treat constipation – crush the roots and mix with hot water. Take the infusion to treat constipation.
  • To cleans the blood – the roots are ground to powder, and the powder added to warm water and taken orally.
  • A root decoction may be taken anally to treat infertility and gonorrhoea.
  • The roots are also used to make poultice to treat skin rash.

There is another interesting plant with the common name isihaqa known as Tulbaghia violacea Harv., to learn about it access Tulbaghia violacea (Isihaqa)

Safety precaution

The use of traditional medicine in prescribed dosages will yield good results. Misuse and abuse may lead to complications. To learn about correct dosage, consult a traditional healer or a herbalist. You can also visit or email: to learn more about traditional medicine.

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