Michelle and Tony have documented useful plants in the Eastern Cape over the past fifteen years. Studies include the use and trade of medicinal plants as well as ethnoveterinery medicines, plant, animal and bird lore, the personification of nature in songs, idioms and proverbs, traditional edible plants and recipes, and spiritual and ritual importance of plants, animals and cultural landscapes.

Current research projects

  1. Understanding rural peoples’ sense of place and their environment: Implications for bio-cultural diversity conservation. 
  2. Agro ecosystems land use systems as complexes of biodiversity use and conservation: Implications for ‘in-domo’ conservation in the context of the political and land-use history of South Africa. 
  3. Untold stories - Assessing African environmental perceptions in relation to past and present portrayal and connections to landscape. Implications for biodiversity and its conservation and cultural heritage policies.

These two projects provide platforms for post-graduate studies:

Great Fish River

 Key publications 

Dold, A.P. & Cocks, M.L. 2002. The trade in medicinal plants in the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. South African Journal of Science 98: 589–597.

Cocks, M.L. 2006. Bio-cultural diversity: Moving beyond the realm of 'indigenous' and 'local' people. Human Ecology 34(2): 185-200. 

Cocks, M.L.; Bangay, L.; Wiersum, K.F. & Dold, A.P. 2006. Seeing the wood for the trees: the role of woody resources for the construction of gender specific household cultural artefacts in non-traditional communities in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Environment, Development and Sustainability 8:519-533. 

Cocks, M.L. & Dold, A.P. 2006. Cultural significance of biodiversity: the role of medicinal plants in urban African cultural practices in the eastern cape, South Africa. Journal of Ethnobiology 26 (1):60-80. 

Wiersum, K.F., Dold, A.P., Husselman, M. & Cocks, M.L. 2006. Cultivation of medicinal plants as a tool for biodiversity conservation and poverty alleviation in the Amatola Region, South Africa. R.J. Bogers, L.E. Craker and D.Lange (eds), Medicinal and Aromatic Plants, 43 - 57. Springer, Netherlands. http://library.wur.nl/frontis

Cocks, M.L. 2006. Wild resources and cultural practices in rural and urban households in southern Africa. Implications of bio-cultural diversity conservation. PhD thesis Wageningen University, Wageningen, The Netherlands. ISBN 90-8504-471-5 

M.L. Cocks and A.P. Dold. 2008. The Cultural use of the Wild Olive tree by the amaXhosa People in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa. Journal for the Study of Religion, Nature and Culture 2.3: 292-308.

Dold, A.P. & Cocks, M.L. 1999. Preliminary list of Xhosa plant names from the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Bothalia 29,2: 267-292.

Popular articles

 Dold, T & McKenzie, R. 2010. Battles and Giant Earthworms. The Kommetjievlakte of the Eastern Cape. Veld and Flora 96,3: 136-137.

 Dold, T. & Cocks, M.L. 2000. The iNtelezi plants of the Eastern Cape: traditional and contemporary medicines. Aloe 37, 1: 10-13. 

Cocks, M.L., Dold, T., & Wiersum, F. 2003. The Cost of Culture: the role of natural resources in maintaining Xhosa customs in the Eastern Cape. Veld & Flora 89, 4: 146–149. 

Cocks, M., Dold, T. & Sizane, N. 2004. A New Broom. Veld and Flora 90, 4:158–161. 

Dold, T., & Cocks, M. 2005. Imbhola yesixhosa – traditional Xhosa cosmetics. Veld & Flora 91, 3:123–125. 

Dold, T. & Cocks, M. 2006. Ikhubalo likaMlanjeni – Mlanjeni’s war charms. Veld and Flora 92, 1: 26–27. 

Dold, T & Cocks, M. 2006. Izaci namaqhalo esiXhosa—Xhosa idioms and proverbs referring to plants. Veld and Flora 92, 2: 86–88.