Indigenous Food And Medicinal Plants

The Indigenous Food And Medicinal Plant Programme explores the utilization, production and development of plants used in indigenous medicine in South Africa, as depicted in the image below. The programme also explores policy development, chemotaxonomy, chemical ecology, plant systematics and evolution.The three main areas investigated by the programme are: 

  • The ethnobotany, chemistry and biological activity of plant-derived smoke.

  • The ethnobotany, chemistry and biological activity of plants used to treat central nervous system-related ailments, such as epilepsy, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

  • The evolution of plant secondary metabolites through studies of potential correlations between phylogeny (evolutionary history), population genetics, and biological interactions, such as herbivory or endosymbionts, on the quantity and quality of natural products (chemical functional traits). This study forms part of a larger project investigating the biotic and abiotic factors contributing to plant chemistry, in particular secondary plant metabolites, at various stages of growth (e.g. seasonality) and ultimately postharvest and under different preparation methods (e.g. drying, aging fermentation).