Catha edulis leaf/uMhlwazi/khat

Family: Celastraceae/ commonly known as the spike thorn family.


The plant is widely used for respiratory diseases. It is also used for energy. In tropical Africa and Arab countries it provides the habit-forming stimulant found in the leaves. This plant contains psychoactive substances, predominantly cathinone and cathine, which produce an effect less intense but similar to an amphetamine.The leaves are brewed as tea or chewed for this purpose, resulting in wakefulness/hyperexcitability and suppressed hunger.

Herb uses

Khat is found in woodlands and on rocky outcrops in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Mozambique, through tropical Africa and the Arab countries. This is a small deciduous tree, although it is often pruned to stay a shrub as younger leaves are preferable. It has bright green, leathery leaves with a shiny upper surface and paler underside, which turn a yellow colour in autumn. Leaf outlines are strongly serrated. It has a straight, upright stem, narrow crown and slightly drooping branches; somewhat resembling a eucalypt from a distance. Young stems are pinkish in colour, developing light grey, or darker bark that is rough and frequently cracked.

Common Names: Bushman's tea (English); Boesmanstee (Afrikaans); umhlwazi (Zulu); iqgwaka (Xhosa); khat (Arabic)