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Plant Information

Scientific Name: Catha edulis
Alternative Names: Boesmanstee (Afr.), umhlwazi (Zulu), iqgwaka (Xhosa), khat (Arabic)

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  • Perennial
  • Khat is scattered in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Mozambique and through to tropical Africa and the Arab countries.
  • It is SA Tree No: 404
  • Catha edulis is a small, hardy, fast-growing, evergreen to semi deciduous tree or shrub that has a lovely slender shape.
  • It has an upright narrow crown and somewhat drooping branches.
  • Kath's rough and often cracked bark is light grey, becoming darker and the young stems are pinkish in colour.
  • The bright green leaves have a leathery texture and turn to a pleasing yellowish colour in autumn.
  • Clusters of creamy-white to greenish minute flowers are borne in leaf axils in spring – followed by reddish brown, capsules that will split in late summer to release the seeds.
  • The seeds may be sown in early spring.
  • It makes an attractive container plant and is ideal for small spaces and townhouse gardens.
  • Kath needs full sun and little maintenance.

Parts Used

  • The leaves and tops..

Medicinal Uses. It is said that

  • Kath leaves have been used by the Bushmen – hence the name Bushman’s tea.
  • They brewed it as a tea or chewed it to stimulate wakefulness, hyperexcitability and to suppress hunger.
  • In South Africa, this plant is regarded as a habit-forming stimulant.
  • Khat has been grown as a socialising drug for centuries in the Horn of Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.
  • There, chewing khat predates the use of coffee and is used in a similar social context.
  • Fresh leaves and tops are chewed or dried and consumed as a tea, to achieve a state of euphoria and stimulation.
  • The leaves or the soft part of the stem can be chewed with either chewing gum or fried peanuts to make it easier to chew.

Other Uses

  • The wood is hard and fine-grained, and therefore good for firewood as well as furniture.
  • The bark is also used as an insect repellent and the stems for fence poles.
The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only. This site merely recounts the traditional uses of specific plants as recorded through history. Always seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Mountain Herb Estate, and its representatives will not be held responsible for the improper use of any plants or documentation provided. By use of this site and the information contained herein you agree to hold harmless Mountain Herb Estate, its affiliates and staff

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