For a fun and unusual plant try adding the spiny clusters of orange lipped flowers of klip dagga (Leonotis nepetifolia) to your garden. This fast-growing tropical annual has a playfully strange Seussian beauty that is magnified by the darting hummingbirds that visit daily to drink its nectar. It’s easy to grow from seed, a 1/4 inch deep in premoistened potting mix in a cell or seedling tray. Keep cells moist and in partial shade until germination which takes 5-7 days, then move to full sun exposure.
Native to tropical Africa and southern India, it also grows in tropical and subtropical regions of Central and North America. Also known as Lion’s ear, shandilay and Tilley’s curse, it has a long medicinal history for treating fevers, headaches, gastrointestinal problems, malaria, dysentery and snake bite. It has antinociceptive, strong anti-inflammatory and hypoglycemic properties which reduce pain sensation, ease inflammation and regulate blood sugar levels in the body. It also has antispasmodic, sedative and antibacterial activities. Its leaves and stem decoction is used to stimulate or suppress menstruation in women, using different dosages to reach desired results. The decoction is also used to cleanse the uterus and as a diuretic.
The leaf tea has a mild hypnotic effect and relieves headaches. The flowers are smoked alone or mixed with tobacco or other dried herbs in smoking blends to produce marijuana-like effects and a euphoric feeling. Its smoke has a pungent odor and has been used as a remedy for eczema, skin infections and itchiness.