The Zulu community of Umlazi, Durban makes extensive use of Ziziphus mucronata (Buffalo thorn) for predominantly cultural purposes. There are many superstitions and beliefs associated with the tree. A validation of its antimicrobial properties from leaf, bark and root extracts were attempted against three Gram positive and three Gram negative bacteria. In addition, an antifungal assay was attempted, using ethanol, aqueous and boiled aqueous extracts on six fungal species. Acetone and ethyl acetate samples showed greater inhibition of mostly Gram positive bacteria. Extracts from the leaves showed the greatest inhibition, while root extracts showed the least inhibition. Ethanol extracts were found to possess greater antifungal activity than aqueous and boiled aqueous extracts. Extracts were most effective against Aspergillus flavus and Aspergillus glaucus with little effect on Candida albicans and Candida tropicalis. It was evident that the bark and leaves of Z. mucronata possess greater antimicrobial properties than the root and can be used as a substitute for other extensively harvested species demonstrating similar properties.
Key words: Ziziphus mucronata, antimicrobial, cultural importance.
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