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Small-leaved Sickle Bush

Dichrostachys cinerea subsp. africana
Back Small-leaved Sickle Bush (Sickle Bush) puntje Kleinblaar-sekelbos (sekelbos)

Dichrostachys cinerea subsp. africana
Kruger National Park
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Dichrostachys cinerea subsp. africana

Description - A spiny deciduous shrub, up to 3.5 m high. The branches are spreading with acacia-like leaves. The drooping pendulous flowers, characteristic pink and yellow catkins, appear in spring and summer followed by sickle-shaped pods borne in clusters. The wood is hard, strong and termite and borer proof.

Distribution - Widespread in tropical Africa, from Cape Verde, the Gambia and the Sudan south to Natal and Angola. Sahelian and Sudanian ecozones to the rain forest, extending to East Africa and the South Arabian Peninsula. Also in Iran, tropical Asia and Australia. Introduced in Florida, the United States, and in Cuba.
In South Africa this bush occurs in the Gauteng, Limpopo and Mpumalanga bushveld as well as Natal.

Temperature, soil - It needs a warm frost-free climate, medium rainfall, friable soil and tends to spread rapidly in the wild. It can withstand long periods of drought. It is fire-tolerant. Propagation is very easy from root cuttings, root suckering.

Medicinal uses
Headaches - A lotion made from the leaves and bark is used to rinse out the mouth and to soak a cloth which is bound around the head to soothe headaches.
Eyes - The dried seedpods make a soothing eyewash for red, tired eyes.
Snakebites, insect stings - Snakebites, scorpion stings and insect stings are treated with the leaf and bark - the leaf is chewed well and then applied and bound over the area.
Stomach pains, diarrhoea - The leaf can be chewed to ease colic and heartburn and can be made into a tea to remedy stomach ailments and diarrhoea.
Wounds - A lotion made from the leaves and bark is used as a wound cleanser and healer. Dried powdered bark is sprinkled onto the wound to promote healing.
Skin - Dried powdered bark is directly applied to skin eruptions, sores, blisters and abscesses for both man and animal.
Chest - In Zimbabwe the dried leaf and root is smoked for pulmonary tuberculosis and chest ailments, and to clear the head during a cold.
Other - The sicklebush is also used to treat catarrh, elephantiasis, circumcision wounds, bronchitis, pneumonia, epilepsy, internal ulcers, dysentery and kidney ailments.
The Pedi and Lobedu tribes use the pod as an anti-witchcraft charm.
This plant is believed to ward off evil if it grows near your house. A decoction of the plant is given to a woman after giving birth to relieve pain.

Other uses - The bark is tough and pliable and makes strong ropes and string. The wood is used as fence posts as they are able to withstand veld fires.

Other names - UK: Sickle bush, Sickle tree, Chinese lantern tree, Kalahari Christmas tree - Afrikaans: Sekelbos - D: Farbkätzchenstrauch - Sudan: Kakada

Weblinks
puntje ThinkQuest Africa Library
puntje Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
puntjeMedicinial uses: ThinkQuest Africa Library

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