Cannabis sativa

Cannabis - Cannabis sativa

No safety concerns with low THC strains.THC is psychoactive component, produced when cannabis buds cured/heated and active whether smoked, ingested or applied topically.

Conservation – no conservation concerns

Plant Uses & Benefits: aromatic, bio-fuel, fibre, food, medicine, phyto-remediation, pot plant, small garden, smoke, tea


Common names: cannabis, marijuana, weed (English); dachab (Khoi); umya, ntsangu (Xhosa); nsangu (Zulu); dagga (Afrikaans). 
Botanical name: Cannabis sativa

Family: Cannabaceae


Type: shrub, tree
Vegetation type:  
Flower colour: green
Flowering season: 
Plant-animal interactions: 
Red list status:

Annual, fast-growing, up to 4m. Dioecious, male and female on separate plants. Compound leaves with 2-13 serrated leaflets. Flowering late summer, autumn, wind pollinated. Trichomes mostly on flowers and surrounding leaves, glands producing cannabinoids and aromatic terpenoids. Domesticated thousands of years ago. Cultivated for different uses – for hemp, seed oil (low THC); for recreational and medicinal use (high THC).

Use as Medicine

Herbal traditions: Cape Herbal Medicine
Plant parts used: above ground parts, flowers, fruits, leaves, roots, seeds

Safety & Toxicity

Safety: caution during pregnancy

Qualities & Phytochemistry

Plant qualities: 
Phytochemical constituents: CBD, THC, cannabinoids, terpenoids

Actions & Pharmacology

Plant actions: analgesic / anodyne, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antifungal, antirheumatic, anxiolytic / nervine-relaxant, astringent, entheogen, euphoric, narcotic, sedative, vulnerary


Plant preparations: balm, cream, decoction, dried, essential oil, extract, fresh, incense, infusion - aqueous, oleoresin, poultice, powder, smoke, tincture

First-Aid Indications

First-aid use: arthritis, asthma, bronchitis, colds & 'flu, cough, glaucoma, gout, headache, inflammation, influenza, nausea, pain, poor appetite, wounds 

Medical Indications

Medical use:  

Veterinary Indications

Medical use:  



Other Uses

Uses & Benefits: aromatic, bio-fuel, fibre, food, medicine, phyto-remediation, pot plant, small garden, smoke, tea

Traditional use – Very wide range of traditional uses from around the world. Widespread traditional use for wound healing, treating infections topically (leaves, flowers and roots). Also, for treating snake bites. Other traditional uses of cannabis include for cough, asthma, bronchitis, headache, pains, flu, epilepsy, malaria, blood poisoning. Oldest written record Greece 440 BCE, describing the seeds used as incense in saunas. First century, Pliny the Elder described decoction of root in water to relieve joint pain, stiffness, gout. By the 17th century, various herbalists recommending cannabis root to treat inflammation, joint pain, gout, and other conditions. Cannabis in popular use in South Africa by Khoi, San and Bantu peoples prior to European settlement in the Cape in 1652.
Modern use – stimulate appetite, nausea in chemotherapy, glaucoma, multiple sclerosis, and numerous other conditions. Endocannabinoid system and cannabinoid receptors have been found in mammals, birds, fish, and reptiles. ECS impacts mood, appetite, memory, metabolism, sleep, pleasure, movement and coordination, immune response, etc.

Cultivation & Harvest

Light-level: afternoon sun, full sun, morning sun, semi-shade
Soil type: 
Soil pH: 
Propagation: cuttings, seed

Cultivation – Easily grown from seed, and cuttings (clones). Hardy, pest resistant. Likes sunshine and well-drained slightly acidic soil rich in organic matter. Not very water-wise. Useful plant for phytoremediation, filter plants, to mop up environmental toxins – concentrate in the roots.