You are currently viewing Ibhonya
Melianthus comosus


  • Post comments:0 Comments
  • Reading time:5 mins read

Family: Francoaceae

Scientific name: Melianthus comosus

Authority: Vahl

Synonym: Diplerisma comosum (Vahl) Planch.

Zulu names: ibhoya, ibonya

Other names: touch-me-not, honey flower (English), kruidjie-roer-my-nie, kruidjie-roer-my-niet, truitjie-roer-my-nie (Afrikaans)

Plant description: M. cosmosus is a multi-stemmed shrub with compound leaves that have acutely serrated margins, red or orange flowers which are rich in black nectar, and fruits in the form of capsules. It occurs in coastal habitats. 

The roots are toxic, when abused or misused, they can exert marked cardiac action that can cause human death.


  • The roots are used by traditional healers to induce a trance-like state.
  • The plant is used to treat general body pain.
  • The root infusion acts as a depressants.
  • The roots and leaves are used to make poultice that is applied to sores and snake bites.
  • The roots are used to induce emesis.
  • The roots are used to make an infusion that is given to cancer patients. 
  • The leaves are boiled and the decoction used to treat ringworm infections. The root infusion is applied topically to ringworms.
  • The leaves are used to make a poultice and a decoction to treat backache, sprains, fractures, rheumatic joints, painful feet, swelling, septic wounds, bruises, and sores.
  • The plant is used to treat gastrointestinal problems and respiratory problems.
  • The plant is cultivated as a garden ornamental. 

Reference and further reading:

  • Arora, P., Magner, E.T. and Bigliardi, P.L., 2023. Honey flower dermatitis: Contact allergy to ellagic acid in Melianthus comosus. Food and Chemical Toxicology179, p.113956.
  • Bedane, K.G., Brieger, L., Strohmann, C., Seo, E.J., Efferth, T. and Spiteller, M., 2020. Cytotoxic bufadienolides from the leaves of a medicinal plant Melianthus comosus collected in South Africa. Bioorganic Chemistry, 102, p.104102.
  • Eloff, J.N., Angeh, I.E. and McGaw, L.J., 2018. Solvent-solvent fractionation can increase the antifungal activity of a Melianthus comosus (Melianthaceae) acetone extract to yield a potentially useful commercial antifungal product. Industrial crops and products.
  • Kelmanson, J.E., Jäger, A.K. and van Staden, J., 2000. Zulu medicinal plants with antibacterial activity. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 69(3), pp.241-246.
  • Maroyi, A., 2019. A review of the ethnomedicinal uses, phytochemistry and pharmacological properties of Melianthus comosus Vahl. Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Research11(11), pp.3655-3660.
  • Van Wyk, B.E., Van Oudtshoorn, B. and Gericke, N., 1997. Medicinal Plants of South Africa, Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa.
  • Scott, G. and Springfield, E.P., 2004. Pharmaceutical monographs for 60 South African plant species used as traditional medicines. South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI).(online) Available http://www. plantzafrica. com/medmonographs (Accessed 10 March 2006.
  • Van Wyk, B.E., Van Oudtshoorn, B. and Gericke, N., 2002. Medicinal Plants of South Africa, Briza Publications, Pretoria, South Africa.
  • Watt, J.M. and Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G., 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of Southern and Eastern Africa. 2nd Edition, Livingstone, London.

Leave a Reply