Wild Dagga plant – Looking for a high?

Wild Dagga plant

If you are then this plant isn’t what you are looking for! It may be called the Wild Dagga plant but that is more or less where the comparison ends. This plant is not as popular as the actual Dagga plant but then, real gardeners wouldn’t be growing that one. Would they?

Apparently, the Wild Dagga plant does have mild narcotic properties, but it has traditionally used for treating numerous ailments. The scientific name for it, Leonotis leonurus, gives rise to its other common name of Lion’s Ear. Apparently “leon” means lion in Greek and “otis” refers to ear.

A common plant but worthy of a spot in your garden

This plant is extremely widespread across South Africa and looks rather scruffy in the wild, but it does make a good garden plant. Books on South African plants will tell you that this plant reaches two metres in height but mine are around three metres. I like to cut them back to around a metre high in April or May. Should you not prune them the plant will look untidy with long dry stalks sticking up.

The Wild Dagga plant attracts insects and birds

The clumps of orange flowers are not only attractive to us humans, but insects and sunbirds love them too. In summer they attract numerous bees and I often see White-bellied and Amethyst Sunbirds feeding on the pollen from the tubular flowers. My resident pair of Prinias spend a lot of time amongst the foliage, presumably looking for insects. Although orange is the most common colour of the flowers you can also get them with white flowers.

I think that the Wild Dagga is a good choice if you are looking for an indigenous plant to fill a disused area of your garden. They tend to create a thicket when planted close together. You will then be rewarded with a fine display of colour over spring and summer.