Buchu: A Bit of Botany
a little botanical information about buchu

Buchu is a small green, woody, evergreen shrub of the Rutaceae family growing to 2 m tall. The leaves are opposite, rounded, about 20 mm long and broad.

The flowers appear in Spring and are white or pale pink, with five petals and purple anthers; the fruit is a five-parted capsule which splits open to release the seeds.

Buchu has a red-brown to violet-brown bark. The leaves have jagged appearing edges, range in color from yellow-green to brown, and are covered in oil glands that give them an oily, wet appearance. The leaves have a minty, black currant scent.

common names & nomenclature
The name Buchu is from Afrikaans boegoe, probably from Zulu bucu, perhaps ultimately of Khoikhoin origin. Buchu is also from the Hottentot word for the plant, bookoo.

Also known as:
diosma betulina, agathosma betulina, barosma betulina, buchu, boegoe, boochoo, bookoo, bucku, bucco, diosma, ibuchu, short buchu, buku, round buchu

Buchu, the aroma and flavor plant
Buchu: Where in the World
habitat and range for buchu

Buchu is native to the lower elevation mountains of western South Africa.

Buchu: Cultivation & Harvesting
considerations for growing and harvesting buchu

Buchu occurs near streams, slopes, or shrub lands with full sun and in a frost-free climate.

Buchu should be grown in well-drained, coarse, gravelly and deep soil.

Buchu can be grown from seeds although the collection of seeds does present problems. The flowering season extends over a number of months so that not all the seeds ripen at the same time. Once the seed capsule has ripened, it spontaneously splits open shooting the seed out in every direction.

If, however, the seed is collected before the capsule has ripened, the seed will not be viable. Commercially, flowering shoots are enclosed in cheese-cloth (or pantyhose) to catch the seed when the capsule splits open. Viable seed can be identified by the fact that they sink in distilled water.

Buchu leaves are collected while the plant is flowering and fruiting, and are then dried.

Dried leaves are cut into small pieces or powdered, and stored in airtight containers in a cool, dry place.

Buchu: The Rest of the Story
buchu history, folklore, literature & more

buchu leaf as a diuretic
Diuretics deplete body stores of potassium, an important nutrient. Anyone taking buchu should increase consumption of foods high in potassium, such as bananas and fresh vegetables. Pregnant women should not take diuretics without a physician's approval.

The Food and Drug administration considers buchu safe, and no harmful effects have been reported. For otherwise healths non pregnant, non-nursing adults who are not taking other diuretics, buchu is considered safe.