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Northern Bushman’s grape
This shrubby climber has many features that make it an ideal garden subject; it is fast growing, hardy, drought tolerant and deciduous, with decorative leaves, flowers and red to purplish black fruits, that are edible and attract birds and humans. It can grow up to 3 m high; spreading up to 1.5 m, it also occasionally grows into a shrub or a small tree. It’s leaves are a fresh green when they appear, maturing to a shiny, dark or bluish green, leathery. New branches of the plant are usually covered in rusty or velvety greyish hairs. The flowers are followed by very decorative clusters of red to black, edible, grape-like berries in summer, from September to June. The fleshy fruits are near round and 15–20 mm in diameter.
Rhoicissus tridentata is widely distributed across the following Provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and North West.
The plant is used medicinally and the part of the plant that is used, is the tuberous rootstock. It is rich in flavonoids (flavonoids are a large group of chemical compounds produced in plants that are beneficial to people when ingested). The tuberous rootstock is used for infertility, stomach, kidney and bladder complaints, as well as dysmenorrhea (a medical term for pain with menstruation). The tuber of the plant is also used to make a decoction to tone the uterus and also to facilitate delivery, and to expel a retained placenta.
Growing Rhoicissus tridentata
This is an ideal plant for a cascading wall, large hanging baskets, screening a fence or wall. Its tendrils mean that this plant will easily cling or hang on anything close to it, therefore trellis support or anything similar can be used to help it climb, especially to cover a wall. It can also be used as an indoor plant, as well as a ground cover in shady patios and under pergolas. It is also an ideal bird attractor, because of its fruit. This is a drought tolerant plant, so it will be a good subject in a water wise garden.