Hoodia is a succulent that is similar, but unrelated, to cacti. It is known in Africa as the “Bushman’s Hat” and “Queen of the Namib.” Reaching heights of over three feet, hoodia have large flowers that emit an unpleasant odor similar to rotting meat.


Credit: Petr Kosina CC-BY-NC 2.0

Hoodia is found in Angola, Botswana, Namibia, and South Africa. Indigenous African tribes have used the plant for centuries as an appetite suppressant during long hunting trips. It also has traditionally been used to treat indigestion.

Today, it is harvested not only as an ornamental plant, due to its unusual blooms and smell, but also as an ingredient in diet supplements. Although evidence of its ability to suppress appetite is unclear, its commercial trade for this purpose is increasing. In addition to increased harvesting, hoodia is also threatened by habitat degradation from agriculture and development.

Laws and Regulations

The entire genus Hoodia is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The CITES listing covers all parts and derivatives of the plant. This means that all products containing hoodia must be accompanied by CITES documents when traded internationally.However, this listing could potentially change in the near future to exclude plants harvested in certain countries. For more information on this potential listing change, please visit the CITES website pdf.

For permitting information on ornamental plants, visit our Branch of Permits page.