Hideaways’ recently had the pleasure of hosting Gus le Breton, ‘African Plant Hunter’ at our Hwange National Parks property, Nantwich Lodge. Gus introduces us to the Lavender Croton – an aromatic as well as medicinal plant – great for dispelling odours and fevers alike! Nantwich is located in a remote part of Hwange, the flora and fauna solely yours – and as Gus reiterates, “plant hunting heaven”! The wilds of western Hwange National Park are characterised by Mopane scrub being right on the edge of the Kalahari desert. Here, from the refurbished national parks lodge of Nantwich, Gus launches his exploration of the area, and due to its location, the wilderness completely his own.
Stumbling across the Lavender Croton during one of his walks and having wanted to tell its tale, Gus jumped at the opportunity to share his wealth of knowledge on this particular plant. Distinctive in berry, yet nondescript in yellow flower – the Lavender Croton is best identified through its leaves – dark green on the outside and white on the inside – the Croton stands out in the bush. Taking a closer look, each leaf displays golden glands distinctive in character. In crushing the leaf, one releases its fragrant and aromatic unique fragrance – true to its name. To harness and share the aroma of the Lavender Croton, soak the leaves in water to enhance the ambience of a room, transporting the smell of nature into your home.
Also known as the fever berry, it implies traditional uses for treating fever, amongst other medicinal purposes. The San bushmen of the Kalahari would use its extracts to specifically treat coughs, chest complaints, or rheumatism. Containing toxic properties, Gus reiterates one must not self medicate without the advice of someone who understands this plant and its medicinal properties. For those who have previously experienced this area of Hwange, like Gus, which evokes nostalgia – or to those who wish to explore it for the first time, Nantwich is a fantastic base to create your own fond memories of this plant hunting heaven in western Hwange National Park.