Agathosma betulina (previously Barosma betulina) is a flowering plant in the family Rutaceae, native to the lower elevation mountains of western South Africa, where it occurs near streams in fynbos habitats.
It is an evergreen shrub growing to 2 m tall. The leaves are opposite, rounded, about 20 mm long and broad. The flowers are white or pale pink, with five petals; the fruit is a five-parted capsule which splits open to release the seeds.
It is known by the common name round leaf buchu and has historically been used as a flavoring agent and an herbal remedy. The very similar plant Agathosma crenulata (previously Barosma crenulata) is known as the oval leaf buchu, and has been used for the same purposes.
Wild plants of this species are still plentiful but are being harvested faster than they can reproduce. The threat of their becoming scarce has led to efforts to cultivate them. The essential oils and extracts of the leaves are used as flavoring for teas, candy, and a liquor known as buchu brandy in South Africa. The two primary chemical constituents of the oils of A. betulina are isomenthone and diosphenol. The extract is said to taste like blackcurrant.
The plant has been used by the indigenous people of South Africa to as a folk remedy for various disorders. Dutch settlers in early times used Agathosma betulina commonly called buchu to make a brandy tincture. The tincture is still used today.
- National Center for Biotechnology Information Naturally occurring medicinal plants, herbs having hypotensive/antihypertensive potential
- Simpson D. Buchu--South Africa's amazing herbal remedy. Scott Med J. 1998;43:189–9. Buchu--South Africa's amazing herbal remedy.
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- A. crenulata and A. betulina
- Van Wyk, Ben-Erik (2005). Food Plants of the World. Portland Oregon: Timber Press, Inc. ISBN 0-88192-743-0
- Lis-Balchin M., Hart S. and Simpson E. (2001). Buchu (Agathosma betulina and A. crenulata, Rutaceae) essential oils: their pharmacological action on guinea-pig ileum and antimicrobial activity on microorganisms. J Pharm Pharmacol. 53(4):579-82.