In the dry season it shrivels up and appears to die completely. But, at the first drop of rain, it miraculously comes back to life. This is the incredible Resurrection Bush, Myrothamnus flabellifolia, from southern Africa. Myrothamnus contains unique compounds that protect its cells during the periods of desiccation and enable them to rehydrate fully and undamaged as soon as moisture is available. Scientists have been researching these compounds for use in skincare, and a number of products have recently been launched based on extracts of this remarkable plant. In this episode, Gus, the African Plant Hunter, gives an introductory overview to the plant, to be followed with more detail in future episodes.

For more on Myrothamnus flabellifolia, see:

  1. Van Vuuren, S.F., 2008. The antimicrobial activity and essential oil composition of medicinal aromatic plants used in African traditional healing (Doctoral dissertation).
  2. Viljoen, A.M., Klepser, M.E., Ernst, E.J., Keele, D., Roling, E., Van Vuuren, S., Demirci, B., Baser, K.H.C., Van Wyk, B.E. and Jäger, A.K., 2002. The composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of the resurrection plant Myrothamnus flabellifolius. South African Journal of Botany, 68(1), pp.100-105.
  3. Ezuruike, U.F. and Prieto, J.M., 2014. The use of plants in the traditional management of diabetes in Nigeria: pharmacological and toxicological considerations. Journal of Ethnopharmacology, 155(2), pp.857-924.
  4. Danley, K., 2006. Letters of the bush: A case study of traditional Setswana herbal medicine. ISP Collection, p.270.
  5. Motlhanka, D.M.T. and Nthoiwa, G.P., 2013. Ethnobotanical Survey of medicinal plants of Tswapong North, in Eastern Botswana: a case of plants from Mosweu and Seolwane Villages. European Journal of Medicinal Plants, 3(1), p.10.
  6. Cheikhyoussef, A., Summers, R.W. and Kahaka, G.K., 2015. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of phytochemical compounds in Namibian Myrothamnus flabellifolius.
  7. Van Damme, P., Van Den Eynden, V. and Vernemmen, P., 1922. Plant uses by the Topnaar of the Kuiseb Valley Namib desert. Afrika focus, 8(3-4), pp.223-252.
  8. Nzue, M.M. and Pierre, A., 2009. Use and conservation status of medicinal plants in the Cape Peninsula, Western Cape Province of South Africa (Doctoral dissertation, Stellenbosch: University of Stellenbosch).
  9. Braithwaite, M.C., 2008. A laboratory model for studying inhalation therapy in traditional healing rites (Doctoral dissertation).
  10. Gechev, T.S., Hille, J., Woerdenbag, H.J., Benina, M., Mehterov, N., Toneva, V., Fellowing:rnie, A.R. and Mueller-Roeber, B., 2014. Natural products from resurrection plants: Potential for medical applications. Biotechnology Advances, 32(6), pp.1091-1101.
  11. Viljoen, A.M., Klepser, M.E., Ernst, E.J., Keele, D., Roling, E., Van Vuuren, S., Demirci, B., Baser, K.H.C., Van Wyk, B.E. and Jäger, A.K., 2002. The composition and antimicrobial activity of the essential oil of the resurrection plant Myrothamnus flabellifolius. South African Journal of Botany, 68(1), pp.100-105.
  12. Anke, J., Petereit, F., Engelhardt, C. and Hensel, A., 2008. Procyanidins from Myrothamnus flabellifolia. Natural product research, 22(14), pp.1237-1248.
  13. Engelhardt, C., Petereit, F., Anke, J. and Hensel, A., 2007. A new arbutin derivative from the herb of Myrothamnus flabellifolia Welw. Die Pharmazie-An International Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences, 62(7), pp.558-559.
  14. Chinsembu, K.C. and Hedimbi, M., 2009. A survey of plants with anti-HIV active compounds and their modes of action. Medical Journal of Zambia, 36(4), pp.178-186.
  15. Urso, V., Signorini, M.A., Tonini, M. and Bruschi, P., 2016. Wild medicinal and food plants used by communities living in Mopane woodlands of southern Angola: Results of an ethnobotanical field investigation. Journal of ethnopharmacology, 177, pp.126-139.
  16. Erasmus, L.J.C., Potgieter, M.J. and Semenya, S.S., 2015. Erectile dysfunction: Definition and materia medica of Bapedi traditional healers in Limpopo province, South Africa. Journal of Medicinal Plants Research, 9(3), pp.71-77.
  17. Glen, H.F., Sherwin, H. and Condy, G. 1991. Myrothamnus flabellifolia. Flowering Plants of Africa 56:62-68.
  18. Hutchings, A., 1996. Zulu medicinal plants: An inventory. University of Natal press.
  19. Moore, J. P., Lindsey, G. G., Farrant, J. M., & Brandt, W. F. 2007. An overview of the biology of the desiccation-tolerant resurrection plant Myrothamnus flabellifolia. Annals of botany, 99(2), 211-217.
  20. van Wyk, B.E., Oudtshoorn, B.V. and Gericke, N., 1997. Medicinal Plants of South Africa. Briza.
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