Halleria lucida (notsung, tree fuchsia, umbinza) is widely used as an earache remedy. The flowers are usually heavy with nectar, attracting large numbers of sunbirds. The berries are edible.
Ethno Medicinal Uses of Halleria lucida
Administered to people: The Zulus use stored dried leaves of Halleria lucida, moistened with water and squeezed into the ear for earache. Unspecified parts are used for skin complaints. The Vhavenda use root infusions, topically applied as drops, for earache. (Hutchings et.al)
Applied in a magical sense: Unspecified parts are used as charms against evil, and, with crocodile fat, against lightning. The Xhosa traditionally burn twigs when offering sacrifices to their ancestors. Young mothers place plant parts in their clothing as charms to ensure the production of healthy babies. Plant parts are also used as protective charms by the Sotho. (Hutchings et.al)
Edible: Fruits are edible, but with a sickly-sweet taste. (Schmidt et.al.)
In the Butterworth area, the fruits are so plentiful that they are placed in pits dug for the purpose and the collector then invites the rest of the family to help themselves. Hence the Xhosa saying isisulu so mbinza (the liberality of the umbinza) the manna of the desert – free food. In KwaZulu, the black ripe berries are mostly eaten by children. In Lesotho, the flowers are sucked for their nectar content. (Fox and Norwood Young)
Other uses: The wood is hard and heavy but seldom used. (Schmidt et.al.)
Halleria lucida has orange tubular flowers laden with nectar. It has a lovely drooping habit, attractive, wavy leaves -and makes an excellent garden subject. It is an excellent tree for an eco garden and attracts birds, especially sunbirds, and insects to the garden. The fruits are edible. Plant Halleria lucida in sun or semi-shade. It is the ideal small tree for a wet spot. (Wildflower Nursery)
Name derivation: Halleria – in honour of Albert von Haller [1708-1777], a professor of botany at Gottingen. Lucida – shining, referring to the leaves. (Schmidt et.al.)
This monograph contains details of Halleria lucida 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.
Fox, F.W., Norwood Young, M.E. (1982). Food From The Veld. Edible Wild Plants of southern Africa. Delta Books, Craighall, South Africa.
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/halleria-lucida/. Accessed on 2020/01/12