Barosma_betulina, butternut

Barosma betulina-Buchu

Family: Rutaceae

Other Names: Bucco, Agathosma betulina, Bookoo, Buchu, Bucku, Diosma Betulina, Oval Buchu, Round Buchu, Short Buchu, Short-leaved Buchu, Thumb

hazardsmallA safe herb, buchu may also result in a number of side effects. For instance, buchu may cause gastrointestinal exasperation and, hence, it is advisable that you take this herb only with meals. In addition, buchu should not be given during pregnancy or to nursing mothers.

Habitat: S. Africa.

Collection: The leaves should be collected during the flowering and fruiting stage.

By Modal Jig (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Description of Buchu:

There are 150 species in the genus Agathosma but only two are grown commercially. The leaves of B. betulina (short Buchu) are of a pale green colour, 1cm to 1,5cm long, 1 cm or less wide, leathery and glossy, with a blunt, strongly-curved tip and finely-toothed margin, with round oil glands scattered through the leaf. Frequently the small flowers, with five whitish petals, and the brownish fruits may be found mixed with the drug. The leaves have a strongly aromatic taste and a peppermint-like odour.

Cultivation of Buchu:

Grown as commercial crop in South Africa. Planting season – June – August, September latest. Specific planting procedure to take care of taproot and ensure low mortality rates. Likes a lot of water in winter.

Agathosma betulina; Buchu requires a Mediterranean climate with winter rainfall and temperature of between 6 °C and 17 °C and summer temperatures between 15 °C and 38 °C. A. betulina thrives in virgin soil on mountain slopes in highly bleached or sandy, well-drained, gravelly soil with a minimum depth of 600 mm. In nature it prefers the middle slopes, usually south or east-facing which are cool and naturally moist. low pH, ideally 3,5 to 4,5, but will tolerate a pH of up to 5,5. Soil salinity and phosphate should also be low. Phosphate levels should not exceed 15

ppm, but plants will tolerate up to 20 ppm. Soil nitrate levels should also be low. High potash and sulphur counts are found in their natural habitat.

Propagation of Buchu:

Agathosma betulina is easily grown from seed. Propagating vegetatively from cuttings takes a bit longer and is difficult. The formation of calluses
responsible for the development of roots is slow and cuttings tend to drop their foliage.Seedlings have the advantage of developing a strong taproot to penetrate deeper and survive dry conditions.
  • Betulina
    Cut with pruning sheers about 5cm from the ground
    Cut late in summer
  • Crenulata
    Central stem
    Cut like a “Lollypop” about 30-40cm from the ground
    Cut early summer

Culinary uses of Buchu:

Buchu Leaf is cooked and used as a vegetable.

Barosma_betulina_botanicalMedicinal uses of Buchu:

Actions: Diuretic, urinary antiseptic.

Part Used: Leaves.

Indications: Buchu may be used in any infection of the genito-urinary system, such as cystitis, urethritis and prostatitis. Its healing and soothing properties indicate its use together with other relevant remedies in many conditions of this system, especially useful where dysuria is part of the symptom picture. The oil content may be too irritating for people with a history of major kidney disease.

Ellingwood says that ” it acts directly upon the urinary apparatus, stimulating the kidneys . . . by its tonic and restorative influence. It relieves irritation of the bladder and urethra, and is valuable in catarrh of the bladder, pyelitis and gonorrhoea.”


In cystitis it may be used with Bearberry, Yarrow or Couchgrass, for dysuria with Corn Silk or Marshmallow.

Preparations & Dosage of Buchu:

Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l-2 teaspoonfuls of the leaves and let infuse for l0 minutes. This should be drunk three times a day.

Buchu Tincture: take 1-2 ml of the tincture three times a day.

Other uses:


Used as a perfume by the hottenhots of South Africa.

Esoteric uses of Buchu:

Divination, wind spells, psychic powers and prophetic dreams. Add buchu leaves to the bath to enable yourself to foretell the future.

The chemistry:
  • Volatile oil, diosphenol (=buchu camphor), pulegone, (+) and (-) isopulegone, 8-mercapto-p-menthan-3-one, responsible for the black currant type odour; 8-acetylthiomenthone, piperitone epoxide (+)-menthone, (-)-isomenthone, p-cymol, limonene, terpineol
  • Flavonoids; rutin, diosmin, hesperidin, quercitin and derivatives
  • Miscellaneous; vitamins of the B group, tannin and mucilage.


A double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a new veno-active flavonoid fraction (S 5682) in the treatment of symptomatic capillary fragility.

Galley P, Thiollet M. Service de Médecine Interne, Hôpital de Pessac, France. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8376915

The efficacy of Buchu (Arathosarna Betulina) in treating symptoms of pain and

swelling from exercise-induced muscle damage. M.l. Lambert, T, Burgess and TO, Noakes. MRC/UCT Research Unit of Exercise Science and Sports Medicine, Sports Science Institute-of South Africa, P.O. Box115, Newlands, 7925 [email protected] 02 1-65 0-4558.

Dumin, J.V.G.A. and J. Womersley. Body fat assessed from the total density and its estimation from skinfold thickness: Measurements on 481 men and women aged from l6to 71 years. British Journal of Nutrition. 32: 77-97, 1974.

Lambert MI.1 Marcus R Burgess T. and Noakes TD. Electro-membrane microcurrent therapy reduces signs and symptoms of muscle damage, Medicine and Science in Sports Exercise. 34(4): 602 —607, 2002.

Ross, W.D. and M.J. Marfell-Jones. Kinanthropometry. In: Physiological Testing of the High Performance Athlete, (edited by J.D. MacDougall, HA. Wenger and H.S. Green), Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 1991, pp. 223-308

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