Kew's project in South Africa is cultivating the native Cape arum lily for medicine, food and crafting
Kew and our partners are setting up a training nursery to grow the valuable lily plant.
27 Sep 2009
Cape arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) (Image: Andrew McRobb, RBG Kew)
Kew has been working with partners Umthathi and Garden Africa to set up a training nursery to grow many of the most relied-upon local plant species for medicine, food and crafting. Cultivating these valuable plants in new health gardens will take the strain off endangered wild populations.
In the UK, the Cape arum lily (Zantedeschia aethiopica) may be just a houseplant, but in its native South Africa it treats ailments from headaches to sores. This is one of the species that Kew recommends should be grown in the new gardens rather than harvested from the wild. In special ceremonies, traditional healers bless the land that is going to be used to cultivate plants.
Needed to live
Plants are vital to the health of people in the Eastern Cape of South Africa, where 85% of the population rely on traditional plant-based medicine. Kew is working with collaborators in Africa and the UK to evaluate many plant species for the treatment of diseases, such as tuberculosis, that affect many people in the region.
Although 10,000 kilometres away from south-west London, traditional healers in the Eastern Cape area are partners with Kew through Umthathi, a Grahamstown-based organisation.
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