Xysmalobium undulatum var. undulatum, commonly known as uzura (or uzara) and in Afrikaans the bitterwortel (bitter root), is an erect perennial found all over the eastern half of South Africa. The plant is also common in tropical Africa. The habitat in which it grows is variable, mainly moist grassland and vleis, but common in disturbed patches including roadsides.
The plant grows from a carrot-like rhizome that is commonly dug up for traditional medicine uses. The range of ailments for which this plant serves some purpose is so wide that it approaches panacea status.
Every winter X. undulatum var. undulatum dies down to the perennial rootstock and regrows new stems in spring. The plant is robust, producing stout, hairy stems that branch and reaches heights around 1,5 m. Consistent with the common characteristic of the Apocynaceae (milkweed) family to which it belongs, the plant exudes a milky sap where the surface is damaged.
This photo was taken north of Kokstad (iSpot; Van Wyk and Malan, 1997; www.plantzafrica.com).