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Family: Anacardiaceae

Scientific name: Loxostylis alata 

Authority: A.Spreng. ex Rchb.

Zulu names: isibhara, ufutho ufuthu,,umpendulo, umphenduli

Other names: tarwood, tigerwood, wild pepper tree (English) breekhout, tederhout, teerhout, tierhout, wildepeperboom (Afrikaans)

Description: L. alata is a small to medium evergreen tree that grows in rocky outcrop and forest areas along stream banks. It has alternate and compound leaves with 2 to 5 pairs of leaflets, including a terminal leaflet, white male flowers and greenish white female flowers on different trees, and small fleshy fruits. The fruit (seed skin) contains a black sticky substance like tar, hence the name tarwood.  


  • The plant (bark and leaves) is used to relieve labour pain during childbirth. 
  • The plant (bark and leaves) is used to boost the immune system. 
  • The bark is used in treating various skin problems.
  • The bark is an ingredient in the preparation of umuthi obovu.
  • The plant is cultivated as an ornamental tree. 

You can buy umpendulo on the IMTHI YESINTU SHOP:

Umpendulo (500g)Umpendulo 50g medicine powder

Safety precaution:

The use of traditional medicine in prescribed dosages will yield good results. Misuse and abuse may lead to complications. Speak to your doctor or a herbalist for the best outcomes. You can also visit the imithiyesintu website and social media or email: to learn more about traditional medicine.

Reference and further reading:

  • Boon, R. 2010. Pooley’s trees of eastern of South Africa: A complete guide, second edition. Flora and Fauna Publications, Durban.
  • Coates-Palgrave, M., 2002. Keith Coates-Palgrave Trees of Southern Africa, Third edition, second imp. Struik Publishers, Cape Town. pp. 1212. 
  • Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G. and Cunningham, A. 1996. Zulu medicinal plants. Natal University Press, Pietermaritzburg.
  • Mhlongo, L.S. and Van Wyk, B.E., 2019. Zulu medicinal ethnobotany: New records from the Amandawe area of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. South African Journal of Botany, 122, pp.266-290.
  • Pell, S.K., 2004. Molecular systematics of the cashew family. (Anacardiaceae). PhD thesis, Graduate Faculty of Louisiana State University of Agricultural and Mechanical College, United States of America.
  • Pooley E., 1993. Trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban, pp. 244-246. 
  • Suleiman, M.M., 2010. The in vitro and in vivo biological activities of antifungal compounds isolated from Loxostylis alata A. Spreng. ex Rchb. leaf extracts (Doctoral dissertation, University of Pretoria).

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