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Ishaqa (Pelargonium luridum)

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Plant description:

Ishaqa is scientifically known as Pelargonium luridum. The genus name Pelargonium comes from the Greek word pelargos meaning stork’s bill which refers to the shape of the plant seeds. The Pelargonium genus has about 280 known species, of which 80% are grown in South Africa. The species name luridum is derived from the Latin word luridus meaning pale yellow or lurid and this refers to the colour of flowers.   

Ishaqa is a herb that grows up to 1m in height. It grows naturally in African countries such as South Africa, Swaziland, Lesotho, Malawi, Angola, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. It is a fast grower that can be found growing in the grassland, open bushes, and near a stream. 

Ishaqa is a variable plant, meaning the same plant has many variations. The plant’s flowers vary from pale yellow to cream and pinkish beige. The leaves vary in shapes and sizes. On the same plant, there are different types of leaves.

Uses of ishaqa

In traditional medicine, the most used parts are the leaves, flowers, and roots. They are used for the following:

The leaves:

  • The leaves are eaten as fodder by animals and as a leafy green by humans.
  • The leaves are used to treat ailments like fever, nausea and to stop vomiting.
  • The leaves are crushed and applied directly on a wound to help speed up the healing process. 

The flowers:

  • The flowers of are used to make a love portion and as a love charm to attract love. Zulu young men use the flowers as a charm for attracting the opposite sex during courtship. 

The roots:

  • The roots are used to treat diarrhoea.
  • In the Basotho traditional system of medicine, the roots are used to treat diarrhoea.

Besides having medicinal value, the plant is also cultivated for its beauty as garden ornamental. It is also a greenhouse plants.

In 1981, an image of ishaqa was used on the Mozambican postage stamp that costs 1,50 Mozambican metical (Mozambique currency). 

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