Pelargonium sidoides/umckaloabo/khoara

Family: Geraniaceae


Pelargonium sidioides is widely distributed shrub in South Africa, found throughout the Eastern Cape, Lesotho, the Free State and parts of Gauteng, usually in short grasslands or stony soils. This plant has heart-shaped, velvety, silver-green leaves and are mildly aromatic. This plant can be distinguished from other pelargoniums by its dark red/purple, almost black looking flowers, which are present throughout the year, peaking in mid-summer. The roots, once cut open, are red, usually with a lighter, whitish ring.

Herb uses

This plant has long been used for its medicinal properties. The root is distilled into an extract that is used for the treatment of coughs and colds, upper respiratory tract infections like, bronchitis, sinusitis and congestion. Research on the plant has been limited to test tube studies, the results of which indicate that P. sidoides neutralize certain bacteria and viruses, however, clinical evidence on the effects of ingestion remains unknown. The plant contains a blood thinning substance, so it should not be used in conjunction with other anticoagulants and should be avoided two weeks before any type of surgery. It should also be used with caution by those with auto-immune diseases as it may increase immune system activity.

Common Names: Black pelargonium, African geranium (Eng.) kalwerbossie, rabassam (Afr.), ikubalo, iyeza lesikhali (Xhosa), khoara-e-nyenyane (Southern Sotho), umckaloabo (German remedy)