The immature seeds of Strelitzia nicolai (isigude, Natal wild banana, Natalse wildepiesang) are edible and tasty and used as a food. It is a popular eco-gardening plant.
Ethno Cultural Uses of Strelitzia nicolai
Not used medicinally but used as a food plant.
Edible: The immature seeds are edible and tasty and used as a food. (Fox and Norwood Young)
Other Uses: Leaf stalks are dried and used to make a rope for building fish kraals and huts. (Fox and Norwood Young)
Eco-Gardening with Strelitzia nicolai
Although not related to the true bananas or the wild banana Ensete ventricosum, the leaves and growth habit of Strelitzia nicolai are somewhat similar and probably account for the common names. The Natal Wild Banana grows up to 12m high and 4m wide. It is an evergreen tree with multi-stems that form dense clumps. The flower of the Natal Wild Banana is a typical Crane Flower inflorescence, up to 500 mm long. The flowers have white sepals with blue petals and consist of 5 purplish-blue, boat-shaped sheaths. The whole flower resembles the head of a crane bird, with a white crest and purple beak. It flowers throughout the year with a peak in spring-summer. (PlantZAfrica)
The flowers provide nectar that attracts sunbirds, especially Olive Sunbirds and Grey Sunbirds. Vervet and Samango monkeys feed on the soft part of the flowers as well as on the orange aril of the seeds. Birds and blue duiker also feed on the flowers. Frogs and ducks often shelter in the clumps along rivers for protection. (PlantZAfrica)
This monograph contains details of Strelitzia nicolai 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.
PlantZAfrica – http://pza.sanbi.org/strelitzia-nicolai. Accessed on 2020/01/23