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Unexplored Medicinal Flora Hidden Within South Africa’s Wetlands

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Abstract

In South Africa, an estimated 19,500 tons of medicinal plants are annually used in the treatment of various human ailments, while approximately 6000 tons are annually exported to other parts of the world for the development and design of novel medicine and cosmetics. Therefore, due to the wide range of medicinal species available it is not surprising to note that traditional medicine is the preferred form of primary healthcare for around 70% of the South African population. Although terrestrial ecosystems are abundant and rich in diversity, the lack of ethnobotanical study done on wetland ecosystems has impacted the amount of potential resources that South Africans could be acquiring. Wetlands support a great diversity of plant species and some of those plant species have the ability to produce secondary metabolites (phytochemicals) which could have major impacts on the development of botanical based medicine and cosmetic for various ailments based on their traditional usage and previous biological testing. Due to the large abundance and variety of plant species available, relatively easy cultivation processes and a large portion of the indigenous community already utilising the plants for their medicinal potential, this field holds much promise for the future and opens up many new opportunities for collaborations between the pharmaceutical industry and that of agriculture.

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Szuman, K.M., Lall, N., Madikizela, B. (2019). Unexplored Medicinal Flora Hidden Within South Africa’s Wetlands. In: Joshee, N., Dhekney, S., Parajuli, P. (eds) Medicinal Plants. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-31269-5_16

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