Ekebergia capensis (Essenhout, Dogplum, Mmidibidi) is a beautiful medium-sized tree with many uses for respiratory, skin, and digestive disorders. It also has magical uses.
Ekebergia capensis Monograph
This monograph contains details of Ekebergia capensis as per the references cited below. If you can provide any additional information, photos or reliable records, or spot any errors, please leave a comment below or in The Muthi Flora of southern Africa Facebook group.
Ekebergia capensis Ethno Medicinal Uses
Administered to people: Decoctions made from the chopped bark, or a 120mm long piece of root, simmered in about 2 litres of water are taken as emetics for heartburn and for respiratory chest complaints and coughs. Leaves are used in an infusion of which a cup is taken as a purgative parasiticide. Other ingredients include the roots of Cymbopogon marginatus and a Hypoxis species, and the leaves of Clerodendrum glabrum, Brachyleana discolor, and Clausenia anisata. Ground bark is used in flour and water poultices for abscesses and boils and in hot water infusions for pimples, administered both as a blood purifying emetic and as a wash. (Hutchings et.al)
The bark of a plant known as umnyamathi and reported to be Ekebergia capensis is used to treat listlessness, undue exhaustion and to ward off evil. (Hutchings et.al)
In the Transkei, the bark is used as a disinfectant and for heart ailments and infertility. Roots are used for headaches by the Sotho and for dysentery and, with leaves for scabies (a contagious skin infestation caused by a mite known as the Sarcoptes scabiei) in unspecified parts of southern Africa. Leaves are used for skin ailments, chronic coughs and headaches by the Vhavenda, who also use bark in emetics and for dysentery, backache and headaches. (Hutchings et.al)
Applied in a magical sense: Bark is traditionally used to protect chiefs against witchcraft and is also taken in love charm emetics. (Hutchings et.al)
Other: The wood is pale brown to whitish, light but a valuable wood for furniture. (Schmidt et.al.)
Ekebergia capensis is a good shade tree with decorative berries that are much favoured by birds. Male and female flowers are on separate trees. It is also a butterfly and moth host plant. In colder areas, the leaves become a beautiful red colour in autumn. Ekebergia capensis can be planted in sun or semi-shade and makes an excellent street tree. (Wildflower Nursery)
The fruits are eaten by birds and mammals and the leaves are browsed. Ekebergia capensis is often confused with Harpehyllum caffrum. The leaves of H. caffrum are however stiff and not drooping, the midrib of the leaflets is arched, and the branchlets from the previous season are usually more than 8mm thick and exude a watery latex. (Schmidt et.al.)
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
Schmidt, E., Lotter, M., Mcleland, W. (2007) Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Jacana Media, Houghton, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Wildflower Nursery – https://wildflowernursery.co.za/indigenous-plant-database/ekebergia-capensis/. Accessed on 2020/01/12