As droughts lengthen, Zimbabwe’s medicinal plants disappear
“These leaves are used to treat stomach aches,” Nzarayebani says with a smile.
“You either boil the leaves, then drink the water, or you can chew the leaves raw and swallow the juice.
These leaves are good for treating any kind of stomach upset.” But such medicinal plants are growing rarer in Zimbabwe these days.
But one of the most serious problems appears to be the country’s lengthening droughts, associated with climate change.
But those plants are disappearing.
He said he still held out hope that some would return if rains remain good.
“We are worried that our source of medicines is fast disappearing,” Mutasa told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“I used to get a plant known locally as mutsombori to treat various sicknesses at the wetland nearby but due to the droughts experienced in the past years the wetland is gone and the plants are gone too.” He said prolonged droughts appear to have killed even the underground tubers or bulbs that had once helped plants regenerate once rains returned.
“The plants are disappearing, both fruit and herbal medicines, but we cannot do anything.
Lawrence Nyagwande, a plant expert with Environment Africa, an environmental organization based in Zimbabwe, said there was little doubt that droughts linked to strengthening climate change were a big contributor to the loss of Zimbabwe’s medicinal plants.