In recent years Venda has suffered considerable environmental pressure as a result of overpopulation and agricultural and industrial expansion, which has led to indiscriminate destruction of vegetation and natural habitats. The ethnobotany of the Vhavenda was studied with the aim of discovering their knowledge of, and dependence on mainly indigenous plants, and its impact on the local flora and vegetation. As the first comprehensive study of its kind in Venda, it also serves as a record of an important part of the cultural heritage of the Vhavenda. Personal observations and interviews with numerous Venda people have played an important role. Information from the literature on the uses of plants by the Vhavenda was also recorded and verified. Herbarium specimens of more than 245 species of mainly indigenous, but also some exotic plants were collected and identified, and information on their uses recorded and analysed. Vernacular names for many taxa have also been recorded. The Vhavenda use indigenous plants for food, medicine, firewood, building, art, as sources of oils and dyes, for shade and as ornamentals. Despite the tendency to rely increasingly on commodities available commercially, indigenous plants still play a significant role in the lives of many people in Venda. A utilitarian system of plant classification exists among the Vhavenda. Most Venda names of plants are related to their traditional uses, morphology, anatomy, chemistry, behaviour, habitat or relationships with certain animals, while a few have onomatopoeic derivations. A traditional system of nature conservation has for long been responsible for the preservation of those plants considered to be important.