LEONOTIS LEONURUS: More Then an Alternative to Cannabis

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Family: Lamiaceae

Genus: Leonotis

Species: Leonurus

Common Names: Lion’s Ear, Lion’s Tail, Wild Dagga,  Wild Hemp

Leonotis Leonurus is a member of the mint family. Other common names are Wild Dagga or Lion’s Tail. It is a perennial shrub native to southern Africa. Flowers are a red-orange color and grow in spikes, their beauty is the reason for being a favorite of many gardeners. Plants can grow up to almost 2 meters, love dry soil and direct sun light. As Perennial outdoor plant it looks awesome combined with Lavander or fall blooming Salvias.


It propagates by greenwood cuts in late spring or via seeds that, in temperate climates, must be sown indoors before the last frost or outdoors after the last frost. It si virtually pests and disease free.

L. leonurus favors warm, dry climates and is drought-tolerant.  It may grow in almost any temperate environment including shrub lands, grasslands, and swamp lands. It grows in California, Mediterranean climate areas beyond South Africa, and has become naturalized in Hawaii, Western Australia and New South Wales in Australia.


In traditional African medicine, leaves and roots of L. leonurus are a common remedy for snake bite and used to alleviate the pain of other animal bites and stings. The decoction of dried leaf or root goes in bath, or directly as an external wash to treat itchy skin. Internally, the tea of the dried leaves is taken to treat headache, bronchitis, high blood pressure and the common cold. Calming, sedative and slightly euphoric; the effects are comparable to a cannabis high, only lighter.

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Some South African tribe, smokes dry leaves and flowers which are said to have narcotic properties, bringing on a calm or euphoric feeling when smoked, which is the reason some call it  Wild Dagga (‘wild cannabis’). Despite being reported to be similar to Cannabis, it’s not as potent nor related in any way. Nonetheless, It is one of the most effective legal herbal substitutes to smoking tobacco or cannabis. Users have reported to have experienced symptoms of mild excitement, visual impairment, dizziness and mood boost.

Harvest no more than one-third of the leaves at one time. Let the plant grow and fill out for at least a month before harvesting again. In Africa a resin is gathered from the leaves. Plants that grow in less torrid climates  tend to exude little or no resin. Leaves can either be smoked, or subjected to alcohol extraction.

As always; we do not advocate this use of the plant in any particular way, and all information given are for historical and educational purposes only. Wild Dagga is currently completely legal worldwide, note that the legal status may have changed in your country since the time of writing.

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