Imifino yasendle, imifino isiZulu : the ethnobotany, historical ecology and nutrition of traditional vegetables in KwaZulu-Natal

Master Thesis


Permanent link to this Item
Journal Title
Link to Journal
Journal ISSN
Volume Title

University of Cape Town

Traditional wild or weedy leafy green vegetables are an important food source in many parts of Africa, and there have been several recent calls across the continent for interventions promoting the use of these resources for their nutritional values. In South Africa relatively little research attention has been paid to traditional vegetables, known in Zulu as imifino. However it is widely thought that these plants are falling into disuse as food preferences change and exotic vegetables such as spinach or cabbage become more commonly available. This report aims to provide basic understandings to inform the promotion of traditional vegetables in South Africa by exploring their ethnobotanical, ecological and nutritional dynamics. Interdisciplinary methods incorporating anthropology, ecology, nutrition and history are required to present holistic insights into the processes of imifino use and disuse. These techniques are focused on the community of Nkonisa, a forced relocation settlement in rural KwaZulu-Natal. A total of 36 imifino species are known across Nkonisa. Most participants know only a core group of 4-6 species which are locally available and are used frequently within the households. When seasonally available, these plants are harvested by women or children and occasionally sold in local markets. There also is a scattered body of knowledge of lesser known species which are rarely used. Many of these can not be recognised in the field by most participants and are generally thought to be locally unavailable.

Bibliography: leaves 68-72.