Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Amazing Plants (pt 1) Iboza Riparia

Male Flowers
The first post in this new series is about an amazing and mostly unknown plant that should be included in everyone's garden. Mrs Doom was ill with swollen glands, sore throat, headache, sore ears, blocked sinus, and was generally miserable.

I made a very simple concoction which was gargled, and then drank (I will detail the recipe and treatment later). Immediately the sore throat was soothed and the headache dulled, shortly after her sinuses cleared, about 30 minutes after treatment her headache was gone, not long after her glands went down, and finally her ears stopped hurting. She felt fantastic. This plant is magic.

Iboza Riparia

Aka: Wild Ginger, Ginger Bush, Nutmeg Bush

Latin name: Tetradenia riparia (formerly: Iboza riparia)

This plant is a highly aromatic shrubby semi-deciduous plant which blooms during Winter and possibly up to early Summer, depending on temperatures.

It is a member of the mint and salvia family and partially drought tollerant, but sensitive to both heat and cold. It will drop all of its leaves if the temperature drops below freezing, but will still bloom even if completely bare.

The growth rate is fairly fast becoming bushy quickly due to new shoots being constantly produced from the stems.


Iboza can be grown in full sun except in areas of extreme heat in which case they will benefit from afternoon shade, or dappled sunlight during the day. It prefers light and well drained soil and will benefit from mulch and water during Summer, but should be not given much water during Winter.

It responds well to pruning which is best done after flowering and will encourage new growth. You can prune it back hard once it is well established.



Propagation is best done by cuttings because you will need both a male and female plant for pollination. Most Iboza plants that are bought from nurseries are male because they produce more flowers that its less flamboyant partner.

During Spring or Summer, woody branch cuttings will strike easily in a slightly-moist loose sandy mix. A single leafless stem can provide many cuttings.

Medicinal Use

In traditional medicine an infusion of the leaves were used mainly as a remedy against cold and flu symptoms.


Crushing and inhaling the scent of the aromatic leaves can relieve or dull a headache almost instantly, and clear the sinuses. I have woken up with a throbbing headache, and (sceptically) cupped a branch in my hand and took a few deep breaths. To my pleasant surprise, this actually worked. This plant is amazing.

Cold and Flu

Iboza's main traditional use is to alleviate cold and flu symptoms. An infusion of leaves or leaves and stems taken orally will relieve sore throat (gargle for best results), coughs, respiratory problems, stomach ache, diarrhoea, dropsy, fever and symptoms of malaria and dengue fever.


An infusion of the leaves and roots can be used to induce vomiting. It is unknown what the dosage required is, but it's probably not a good idea to use Iboza as a general emetic.

Bacterial Ailments

Iboza has antibacterial and antiseptic qualities and is shown to be effective against: Escherichia coli (E-coli), Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Mycobacterium smegmatis, Microsporum canis, Trichophyton mentagrophytes and Bacillus subtilis.

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Ethanol extractions (or a tincture) from the leaf and root have been shown to inhibit the growth of the above bacteria, and many others. This gives credence to the validity of traditional treatments against ailments such as food poisoning, urinary tract infections, meningitis, wound infections, throat problems and malaria.

Other Uses

  • Stored grains and beans can be protected against insects and other pests by drying and crushing the leaves of the Iboza plant and storing them with the produce. Wash the plant matter before preparing the food.
  • The stems of the plant were often chewed - presumably this helps with oral hygeine due to the antibacterial and antiseptic properties of the plant.

Recipe and Dosage

No information can be found about traditional dosage, but in practice I have found 1 gram of the fresh herb to be a safe and effective amount against cold and flu symptoms.

  • Take 1 gram of fresh Iboza leaves
  • (optional) Take 0.5 of fresh Toothache Plant leaves (this plant will be detailed in the next entry)
  • Steep in 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes
  • Gently simmer to reduce the concotion down to about 10-15% of the original volume. Do not boil vigoursly, but keep it just on the point of boiling.
  • Let this cool and strain the tea, but do not discard the plant matter.
  • If sore throat is part of your symptoms, then gargle the tea and swish it around as your would mouthwash and then drink the tea. Otherwise just drink it.
  • The remaining plant matter can be reused a number of times in the same manner throughout the day for ongoing relief.
 This plant is a surprising and welcome addition to our arsenal and deserves a lot more popularity.

1 comment:

  1. Do you have a plant of Iboza Riparia for sale? I am searching for one. Would require postage to 4556. Thank you