Leonurus leonotis aka Lion’s Ear is an annual indigenous plant that grows very tall very quickly and likes full sun. Flowers occur in globes which are slightly prickly to touch with thin leaves immediately underneath. Flowers are orange and tubular with four stamens with white filaments. The stem is very rigid and square. Lion’s Ear is common in fallow fields and is drought resistant and water wise.
It likes a well drained soil but I have found it not to be too fussy about the condition of the soil. It self seeds prolifically and grows without much attention.
Lion’s Ear attracts Sunbirds to the garden. It is drought resistant and therefore a good choice for a water wise garden.
The plant can be cut back to encourage low, dense growth and makes a beautiful feature in sunny corners of the garden.
Medicinal Use of indigenous lion’s ear by South African Tribes
Like the name suggests, Lion’s Ear is a herb for courage: it is used to ease anxiety and treat a number of heart conditions.
Indigenous Lion’s Ear was first used by the Khoi people as a tobacco and as a medicine for various ailments. Many other indigenous tribes have also used Lion’s Ear for medicinal purposes.
Traditionally, a strong infusion (tea) was made using the twigs, leaves and flowers to treat a wide range of skin irritations; from bites and stings to chronic conditions such as eczema and even leprosy. Twigs added to the bath water gives relief to muscular aches and pains, itchy skin and eczema.
The Zulu people use the root for snakebite and they sprinkle a concoction of the plant around their houses to keep snakes away. The Zulu and Xhosa make a strong brew of the leaves to use as a poultice for snakebites. They also use a tincture of the root bark internally for snake bites.
A tea of the flowers can also be made for a soothing coughs and as a cold remedy. This tea has also been used effectively for the treatment of jaundice, cardiac asthma, haemorrhoids, headaches, chest ailments, bronchitis and epilepsy.
The leaf is also said to be smoked in the treatment of epilepsy and partial paralysis.
It is known that a tea of leaves and flowers used to be drunk daily by our older generations for water retention, obesity and hemorrhoids.
Lion’s Ear is also much respected in the treatment of animals. The Tswana, Zulu and Xhosa make a strong brew of leaves, flowers and stems to use as an enema in sheep, goats and cattle, as well as humans. This brew is given to animals with respiratory problems and applied as a lotion to sores on stock and dogs, and as a wash for wounds, scratches, bites and stings.
Please seek the advice of a trusted herbalist when working with medicinal plants. Each body is unique and is influenced by the emotional and psychological wellbeing of each person. Someone with the right knowledge and experience will be able to assist you with the correct dosage to suit your individual needs.
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