Ikhathazo; Alepidea amatymbica
The plant is common in the summer rainfall grasslands of southern Africa, and up the east coast as far as Zimbabwe, and northwards into Kenya and Ethiopia.
Common names are larger tinsel flower (English), kalmoes (African), iqwili (Xhosa), ikhathazo (Zulu) and lesoko (Sotho).
The Alepidea amatymbica is a robust, erect plant and grows up to 2 meter tall in grasslands. The flowering stalk is hollow, with numerous small white flowers arranged in dense, rounded heads. Because it is an important component of the grasslands, which are subjected to regular burning, it regenerates from well-developed underground stems, which are able to survive the heat of a grass fire.
Ikhathazo is one of the plants traditionally used for "ubulawu" (African dreaming). Ubulawu is the medicine which belongs to the ancestor and is used by a traditional diviner or "sangoma" to induce or clarify dreams of ancestral spirits. In all traditional Xhosa rituals ubulawu is used. A medicinal preparation is made by mixing particular plants with cold water. This mixture is stirred thoroughly (by using a prong-like stick) until it forms a white froth. Its use, together with the rituals (singing and dancing) often results in altered states of consciousness with accompanying visionary phenomena.
In Africa, the dry rhizome and roots are also smoked, or powdered and taken as snuff. Smoking the roots should result in sedation and vivid dreams. The rhizome is often carried as a lucky charm.Alepidea amatymbica is also used for self-fortification and as protection against evil spirits. According to some traditions, the divining bones of ancestors are washed with ikhathazo.