Swaziland's Flora Database
Swaziland's Flora - siSwati Names and Uses
Compiled by Chris Long, © December 2005
SiSwati Names (arranged alphabetically)
A listing of siSwati names sorted alphabetically. This is a difficult section as siSwati has only recently been developed as a written language and spelling of proper nouns does not appear to be fully stabilized. The spelling variables I found both fascinating and frustrating. The names have been corrected as far as possible and both the correct spellings and many alternate, and frequently used spellings, are included. To find these names from the botanical name the usage section of this book should be used. Also incorporated are the Zulu names for species for which no siSwati name could be found. In other cases it is the Zulu name that appears to be in common use, resulting in a mix of Zulu and siSwati names.
Busi Dlamini-Nkomo of the National Curriculum Centre in Manzini has been invaluable with her help in correcting siSwati spelling and in translating from Zulu names.
This section is an effort to enable traditional, indigenous knowledge to be applied to the correct botanical species by "marrying" the siSwati name to the botanical name. There remain many siSwati names for which I have been unable to find the correct botanical name and many botanical names for which no siSwati name could be found. It is far from complete and urgently needs more work to be done by a more proficient linguist.
Capital letters at the beginning of the main noun stem have not been used. I have been advised that whereas in English we might capitalize a proper name it is not done as frequently in siSwati.
In most cases the botanical name has been reduced to the genus or to the genus and species only. Again there may be exceptions, of which I am unaware, but in general I believe that many siSwati names will refer not only to the species but also to the subspecies and varieties that are attached to it. In many cases a siSwati name may refer to an entire genus. Having found the botanical name its main usage can be traced in the usage section.
Perhaps this section may also be of especial interest to tourist associations who are often asked about Swazi exotic flora by tourists, but who can now only respond with the siSwati name. The Common English name may, or may not, be familiar to the tourist, but if they are truly interested they can take note of the botanical name, and use it to learn more about the plant, how it relates to plants in their home country, and how it is used by the Swazi people. It is hoped that, together with their tour host, they will be helped to learn more of Swazi Culture through its flora.