Sutherlandia frutescens (cancer bush, balloon pea, or sutherlandia; syn. Colutea frutescens L., Lessertia frutescens (L.) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning) is a southern African legume which has traditionally been used as an indigenous medicine for a variety of ailments.
It is a shrub with bitter, aromatic leaves. Red-orange flowers appear in spring to mid-summer.
Sutherlandia frutescens is a small bush growing up to about 1 m (39 in) high. It is native to dry parts of southern Africa, preferring full sun but tolerant of a wide variety of soil types. It is a tough plant, hardy, fast growing and drought tolerant but short lived. Seeds germinate readily in around two to three weeks and established plants self-seed readily. Seedlings may be vulnerable to damping off, but provided it is in well-drained soil, it grows readily and is not very vulnerable to pests.
An infusion made from the leaves is a traditional remedy said to treat fever, chicken pox, flu, rheumatism, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, and stomach and liver problems.
Sutherlandia frutescens has been promoted as useful to people with HIV/AIDS, but there is no evidence of benefit, and it interacts adversely with conventional drugs used, such as antiretroviral drugs.
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