Endemic to the Western Cape, this Buchu is an evergreen plant with round leaves that has visible oil glands and star-shaped white-pink flowers from June-November. Buchu was traditionally cherished by the Khoi & San to anoint the body. She is beautifully aromatic, antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, demulcent/emollient, diuretic, carminative, anti-spasmodic and antioxidant.
The fresh leaves can be powdered or prepared into an infusion, wash, spray, compress, poultice, soap, vinegar, tincture, essential oil, gel, plaster, ointment, or balm.
Leaves were traditionally chewed by the Khoi, San and Xhosa for digestive upsets and wound healing and enjoyed in a in brandy – boegoebrandewyn by the Cape Dutch.
Modern use commonly involves ingesting Buchu as a tea for urinary tract infections (such as cystitis and nephritis), digestive upsets, rheumatism, backache, gout. Because of her soothing and cleansing qualities she is topically used for wounds, dermatitis, bruises, strains and trauma.
Buchu is also useful as an insect repellent, keeping away flies, mosquitoes, fleas, bed bugs, lice and parasites.
Safety: Agathosma betulina is the preferred species, but it is still advised to avoid the use of all buchu preparations during pregnancy and lactation.
Cultivation: She enjoys partial shade – full sun, growing up to 2 m high. Being known to be a tricky plant to grow, Buchu thrives in well drained acid soil that is mixed with course sand and compost. She is best planted out during the winter and spring. Roots are sensitive when repotted. Offer good watering in winter, and moderate watering in summer. Do not allow plants to dry out. Once established they will survive long periods of drought. Propagation easy from seed, but challenging from cuttings.
Conservation – cultivated, but wild harvesting needs monitoring, please don’t harvest when flowering.