Celtis africana (wit stinkhout, white stinkwood, umvumvu) is used for protective magical purposes in various parts of southern Africa. It is a graceful addition to the eco-garden.
Ethno Medicinal Uses of Celtis africana
Applied in a magical sense: The wood is used with crocodile fat as a charm against lightning. It is also used for protective magical purposes in various parts of southern Africa. (Hutchings et.al.) (PlantZAfrica)
It is also believed that it has the power over evil and that pegs of wood driven into the ground will keep witches away.
Other uses: The wood of Celtis africana is white to yellowish in colour and of medium hardness. It is tough and strong, and polishes well, but is difficult to work. It is a good general timber suitable for making planks, shelving, yokes, tent-bows and furniture. African people have always used it to make a variety of household articles. (PlantZAfrica)
Celtis africana is a graceful, fast-growing, large tree. The bark is silvery grey and the tree is beautifully shaped. The new foliage in spring is the palest green. It is a host plant to butterflies and moths and many birds are attracted to its small yellow berries that are produced prolifically in summer. (Wildflower Nursery)
Growing Celtis africana
Freshly collected seed germinates easily. Seeds collected from the ground are usually infested by insects, so it is best to harvest from the tree. The flesh from the berry is best cleaned off and the seeds should be sown in a flat seedling tray filled with river sand and well-decomposed compost (5 parts river sand to 1 part compost). The seeds should be covered with a thin layer of river sand and kept moist. The trays should be placed in a warm but shaded area. Germination will take 15 to 30 days with expected germination of 70%. Transplant the seedlings into good, rich soil and give them plenty of water and they will grow fairly fast, putting on 1 to 2 m per year. (PlantZAfrica)
This monograph contains details of Celtis africa as per the references cited below. If you can provide any additional information, photos or reliable use records, or spot any errors, please leave a comment below or in The Muthi Flora of southern Africa Facebook group
Arnold. T.H., Prentice, C.A., Hawker, L.C., Snyman, E.E., Tomalin, M., Crouch, N.R. and Pottas-Bircher, C. (2002). Medicinal and magical plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 13. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G., Cunnigham, A.B., (1996). Zulu Medicinal Plants: an inventory. University of Natal
PlantZAfrica – http://pza.sanbi.org/celtis-africana. Accessed on 2020/01/23
Wildflower Nursery – https://wildflowernursery.co.za/indigenous-plant-database/celtis-africana/. Accessed on 2020/01/23