SACoronavirus Resource and News Portal

Plant Information

Scientific Name: Sceletium tortuosum
Alternative Names: Tortuose fig marigold

Package FormatN/A

Sceletium tortuosum
Sceletium tortuosum


  • Perennial
  • Sceletium is indigenous and grows from Namaqualand to Montagu through to Aberdeen - and commonly occurs in quartz patches.
  • They are usually found growing under shrubs in partial shade where they get good sunlight for at least part of the day.
  • The Khoisan people of South Africa used it in folk medicine and it became known to the early colonizers of the Cape in the 17th century.
  • However, the first known written account of its use was in 1662 by Jan van Riebeeck.
  • Sceletium is a short-lived perennial that will grow for three to five years.
  • They are climbing or creeping with slender branches that become thick and only slightly woody with age.
  • Water cells are conspicuous on the leaves that have recurved tips.
  • The flower petals are white to pale yellow, pale salmon or pale pink.
  • Sceletium is insect pollinated.
  • Seed dispersal occurs during rain events by means of hygrochastic fruit capsules that open when wet, allowing seed to escape.
  • Under controlled conditions Sceletium is best kept potted on a sunny windowsill in porous somewhat loamy soil.
  • They will flower readily if they get sufficient sunlight.
  • Their active growth takes place in autumn, winter and spring, with a rest period during summer when plants should not be watered.

Parts Used

  • The aerial parts.

Medicinal Uses. It is said that

  • Sceletium has been used by South African pastoralists and hunter-gatherers as a mood-altering substance since prehistoric times.
  • The traditionally prepared dried Sceletium was often chewed and the saliva swallowed.
  • It has also been used as a snuff and smoked and to relieve pain and alleviate hunger.
  • Nowadays Sceletium tortuosum is commercialized as an anti-depressant and to reduce anxiety.
  • Doses act as anti-depressants, minor tranquilizers and anxiolytics used in the treatment of mild to moderate depression, psychological and psychiatric disorders where anxiety is present, major depressive episodes, alcohol and drug dependence, bulimia nervosa and obsessive-compulsive disorders.
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

Back to Plant List