False sesame (Ceratotheca sesamoides) is a beautiful flowering plant we recently spotted at Gwango Heritage Resort.
Like many of the wild plants we're seeing to this rainy season, it offers more than just visual appeal. This plant looks a lot like the European foxglove (Digitalis purpurea), but is a member of the sesame family of plants.
In Africa, especially in our rural areas it's often used as herbal medicine. An infusion of the leaf is used to for jaundice, snakebites, skin diseases, cramps, diarrhoea, and irregular menstruation. The root is used to treat sores and a slimy extract made from the plant can be used to treat conjunctivitis (pink eye).
The leaves and flowers of false sesame are also consumed as a vegetable. The seeds are crushed to extract oil or eaten as a paste.
The plant can also used as an emollient and lubricant and as an aphrodisiac.