Leonotis leonurus (wilde dagga, wild dagga) is widely used to treat colds, coughs, bronchitis, asthma, and jaundice. Leaves are smoked for epilepsy and headaches. It is a colourful addition to the eco-garden.
Leonotis leonurus Monograph
This monograph contains details of Leonotis leonurus as per the references cited below. If you can provide any additional information, photos or reliable records, or spot any errors, please leave a comment below or in The Muthi Flora of southern Africa Facebook group.
Leonotis leonurus Medicinal Uses
Administered to people: Coldwater infusions of pounded leaves are drawn into the nostrils to relieve feverish headaches. Hot water infusions from mixtures of the roots with the roots or green fruit pulp of Stychnos spinosa, and roots of other plants, are taken as emetics for snakebite. Healers are reported to take a mouthful and bite the patient in all parts of the body vigorously enough to draw blood and thus allow the medicine to enter the circulation. Infusions of leaves and stems are taken for dysentery or administered orally or as enemas for coughs and colds in humans and animals. (Hutchings et.al.)
Root decoctions are used for snakebite by the Xhosa. Tinctures of the flowers are reported to be used for coughs and headaches, while leaves and flowers are used for tapeworm. Whole plant decoctions are used for the treatment of haemorrhoids by the Xhosa and also in the Cape and Mauritius. (Hutchings et.al.)
Infusions from flowers, leaves or stems are widely used in various parts of Africa and Mauritius as purgatives and tonics and for influenza, tuberculosis, jaundice, muscular cramps, skin diseases, sores, bee and scorpion stings, and snakebite. (Hutchings et.al.)
Leaves are reported to have been smoked for partial paralysis and epilepsy while decoctions have been used for for the relief of cardiac asthma. (Hutchings et.al.)
Decoctions of stems or seeds are used for headaches by the Nama while ointments containing powdered leaves are applied for pain above the eye. (Hutchings et.al.)
Teas are reported to have been used as diuretics and for obesity and haemorrhoids in southern Africa.
Administered to animals: Pounded roots and leaves are added to drinking water to prevent sickness in poultry and are also used for gallsickness in cattle. Infusions of leaves combined with those of Clutia hirsuta are used for gallsickness in animals. (Hutchings et.al.)
Applied in a magical sense: Infusions are sprinkled in the kraal to keep snakes away. (Hutchings et.al.)
Physiological effects: Although plants are reported to induce intoxication and delirium, other reports indicate that no such effects were produced when 10g of dried leaves were taken and that an alcohol extract had no toxic or narcotic effects. A nauseous vapour is given off when the herb is smoked and plants have a peculiar scent and nauseous taste. (Hutchings et.al.)
Leonotis leonurus is a colourfull, fast-growing, drought-resistant woody shrub that grows 2-3 meter high. Bright orange velvety flowers full of nectar are borne in whorls at the end of the stems. The flowers attract butterflies, bees and birds, especially sunbirds..
Leonotis leonurus will grow in any type of soil but it will do best in rich well-drained loamy soils with lots of compost. Plant it in an informal mixed border, or in groups of 3-5 plants. Cut the plants back to soil level at the end of the winter.
It was exported to Europe in the 1600s and to this day is still widely grown there.
Arnold. T.H., Prentice, C.A., Hawker, L.C., Snyman, E.E., Tomalin, M., Crouch, N.R. and Pottas-Bircher, C. (2002). Medicinal and magical plants of southern Africa: an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 13. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G., Cunnigham, A.B., (1996). Zulu Medicinal Plants: an inventory. University of Natal