Leonotis nepetifolia | ‘Christmas Candlestick’, ‘Klip Dagga’, ‘Lion’s Ear’, ‘Lion’s Tail’, ‘Shandilay’, ‘Tilley’s Curse’, ‘Wild Dagga’ | 25 seeds
Leonotis nepetifolia is an enticing flowering annual perennial plant that reaches up to three metres or so in height, native to parts of Africa and India. Commonly known as ‘Christmas Candlestick’, ‘Klip Dagga’, ‘Lion’s Ear’, ‘Lion’s Tail’, ‘Shandilay’, ‘Tilley’s Curse’ and ‘Wild Dagga’, the species prefers to grow on rubbish heaps, neglected roadsides and abandoned wasteland, at altitudes of up to two thousand metres.
Nepetifolia is a member of the same family as mint, the Lamiaceae, and is especially closely-related to Leonotis leonurus (also known as ‘Lion’s Tail’ or ‘Wild Dagga’), from which it can be distinguished by its leaf shape. As with many other species of ‘Dagga’, nepetifolia forms soft drooping and dark green leaves (which grow to approximately ten centimetres wide) and eye-catching orange, purple, red or white flowers. The flowers are highly attractive to (and consequently pollinated by) bees and sunbirds, with the seeds subsequently produced being spread by vectors such as watercourses, muddy animals and vehicles.
Apart from their wild growth and ornamental uses, nepetifolia (as well as several other species of ‘Dagga’) serve several useful functions. As food, the seeds are rich with a fatty oil similar to olive oil, while the flowers can be cooked (along with green leafy vegetables) and also produce a sweet and tasty nectar!
In traditional indigenous medicine, the plant is used to treat everything from anthrax, back problems, bed-wetting, coughs, diarrhoea, fever, heavy cramps, itches, malaria, piles, pneumonia, renal calculi, skin diseases, swellings, syphilis, thrush, womb prolapses and wounds! ‘Wild Dagga’ is also often used for it’s abortificant and diuretic properties.
Nepetifolia is easy and rewarding to grow from seed, either indoors or in USDA Hardiness Zone 8.
All the seed sold by Arkham’s Botanical was freshly and ethically sourced in 2018