Myrothamnus flabellifolia

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Myrothamnus Flabellifolia

Family: Myrothamnaceae

Common names:

  • Resurrection plant (Afr.); (isiZulu); (Ndebele)
  • Oopstandingsplant
  • Uvukakwabafile
  • Umazifisi


Myrothamnus flabellifolius is a small resinous shrub let, about 0.2- 1.2 m in height. Its leaves have broad tips, wavy, folding fan-like, with the stalk sheathing at the base forming a joint with the blade. The stem is rigid, much branched and aromatic. The fruits are three-lobed, leathery, dehiscent capsules.

Myrothamnus flabellifolius is a geophyte possessing an extensive root system which extends into the crevices of the rocky slopes on which it grows. It usually forms large stands in shallow soil on sunny rocky hills or along cracks and crevices in rocks. It is not endemic to South Africa, and is distributed from Cape to Kenya. Provincially in South Africa, it is distributed in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and the North West.

Cultural value

Myrothamnus flabellifolius is unique, being the only woody resurrection plant. It is an important plant in southern Africa because of its widespread occurrence and usage in African medicine and traditional culture. The leaves contain essential oils, mainly camphor and eucalyptol and have been used as a medicinal tea. The leaves and stems of the resurrection plant are added to tea to flavour it, and are also used as a spice. Smoke from burning plants is inhaled or young leaves are smoked in pipes for asthma and pains in the chest by the Pedi people. Smoke from the leaves is directed into the vagina for pain in the uterus. The Vhavenda use the whole plant for colds, respiratory ailments, nosebleeds and fainting. In Tanzania, the fruit is used for chest complaints and the leaves are used to make aromatic lotions.

Growing Myrothamnus Flabellifolia

Myrothamnus flabellifolius can be propagated by seed and cuttings. The seeds are tiny. Sow them, right on the surface, in a pot with a loose peat moss and perlite mix (acid to alkaline soils). The plants come primarily from summer-rainfall areas, so spring is probably the best time of year to get them started. Germination is easy and quick in a seed pot kept in a moist, well-lit location.