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Plant Information

Scientific Name: Diospyros lycioides
Alternative Names: Muthala (Ve), Lethanyu (Tswa), Monkga-nku (S. So), Mtloumana (N.Sot), Umbhongisa (Xho), Umbulwa (Zu)

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Diospyros lycioides
Diospyros lycioides


  • Perennial
  • The common name Bloubos refers to the often bluish colour of the leaves.
  • It is the basis of many place names like Bloubosdrift, Bloubospan, Bloubosdorn and Blouspoort in the southern Free State.
  • Bluebush is SA Tree No: 605, 605.1 and 605.2 and native to central and southern Africa, except the winter-rainfall area.
  • It is a deciduous to evergreen shrub or medium-sized tree with small, finely silky blue-greeen leaves clustered towards the branched ends.
  • The bark is dark grey to brown and smooth on older branches and stems, but covered with long hairs on young branches.
  • It bears small drooping yellow bell-shaped flowers, sweetly fragrant especially at night.
  • Male and female flowers occur on separate plants.
  • It bears attractive deep-red marble-sized edible berries.
  • Flowering time is from September to December and fruits from January to May.
  • Use it as a hedge or screening plant - pinching out branch tips when young will encourage a bushy plant.
  • It makes a beautiful small tree when pruned as a standard.
  • Will grow well in rocky areas - plant in well-drained soils and sun or semi-shade.
  • The leaves are food for the Mooi River opal butterfly (Chrysoritis lycegenes)

Culinary Uses

  • The fruit has a pleasant sweetish taste, with jelly-like flesh when ripe.
  • The young fruit is covered by hairs, but is smooth when ripe and turns from red to reddish brown to black.
  • It is used to make beer and other alcoholic drinks.
  • The seeds are used as a coffee substitute

Parts Used

  • The bark, roots, fruit and seeds.

Medicinal Uses. It is said that

  • Treats cold and coughs by chewing the roots.
  • Powdered bark of the root is an abortifacient.
  • The roasted and powdered roots mixed with mutton fat, make a thorn plaster and are used to ease body pains.
  • Nama people of Namibia, believed that if the tree was cut with an upward stroke it would produce an emetic medicine and with a downward stroke it would be a purgative.
  • It is reported that the Venda used it, together with gardenia, to appease the spirit of a young man who has died before marriage.
  • They also used it as a charm to protect them from enemies.
  • The roots and stems are also chewed and used as a toothbrush.

Other Uses

  • The wood is used to build huts and to make spoons.
  • A yellowish brown dye is obtained from the roots.
  • The bark is used for tanning skins.
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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