Buchu

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Agathosma betulina – Buchu

Family: Rutaceae (citrus family)

Common names

  • Oval-leaf buchu
  • Boegoe
  • Langblaar boegoe
  • Anysboegoe
  • Buchu
  • Ibuchu

Description

Agathosma betulina pillans is a woody shrub, commonly known as Buchu.
It forms a charming garden shrub with a rounded shape and grows to a height of 1.5 to 2.5 m. It has starry white flowers, 1 to 3, are carried on short, leafless branchlets which form in the axils of the oval leaves.

Distribution

Agathosma betulina is indigenous to the Western Cape Cederburg region of South Africa and adapted to dry conditions and can be found on sunny hillsides of rocky-sandstone slopes.

Cultural value

Buchu plant material processed into buchu oil, buchu extract, dried buchu leaves, buchu water, and powdered buchu is not only used for medicinal and cosmetic purposes, but also as flavouring agents in the food industry. Buchu is highly sought after globally for its essential oils.

Buchu is an important plant in the Khoi-San tradition and still enjoys a great reputation as a general health tonic, diuretic, and mild urinary antiseptic. The essential oil is a valuable flavour product and is probably responsible for the antispasmodic, antiseptic, and diuretic activities. Some medicinal uses of Agathosma betulina include treatment as an antispasmodic, antipyretic, liniment, cough remedy, cold and flu remedy, diuretic, treatment of kidney and urinary tract infections, haematuria, prostatitis, cholera, stomach ailments, rheumatism, gout, bruises, calculus, and an antiseptic. Tinctures of buchu have a great reputation as general health tonics, treatment for stomach aches, use as aromatic bitters, diuretics, and mild urinary antiseptics. The San used buchu on their bodies with aromatic plants mixed with fat to keep their skin soft and moist in the desert climate. The buchu ointment also served as an antibacterial and antifungal protectant, acted as an insect repellent, a deodorant, and to promote the general well-being of the body by uptake of the aromatic substances through the skin.

Growing Agathosma betulina

Agathosma betulina is easily grown from seed. Propagating from cuttings takes a bit longer and is difficult. The formation of calluses responsible for the development of roots is slow and cuttings tend to drop their foliage.
Buchus are best planted out during the winter -spring season. Plants require good watering in winter and moderate watering in summer.