© G Nichols
This would be a dream plant for every herbalist to have near at
hand, as it is an important component of the healer's pharmacy.
amatymbica is a robust, erect plant, up to 2 m tall in grassland;
the leaves form a loose rosette with the flower spike rising above
the surrounding grasses. The margins of the leaves are prominently
toothed, each tooth ending in a bristle. The inflorescence is widely
branched, with a number of small, star-shaped, white flowers, ±
250 mm in diameter.
Because it is an important component of the grasslands, which are
subjected to regular burning, it regenerates from well-developed
underground stems, which are able to survive the heat of a grass
It is common in the summer rainfall grasslands of southern Africa,
and extends up the east coast as far as Zimbabwe, and northwards
into Kenya and Ethiopia. There are about 28 species of Alepidea
and most occur in southern Africa. Alepidea amatymbica is
divided into three subspecies.
Used generally in traditional medicine to treat colds, coughs, rheumatism,
wounds, and to wash divining bones. I have personally seen marijuana
(dagga) smokers mixing it in their cigarettes and it is said that
it takes away the smell of the herb.
Growing Alepidea amatymbica
This plant is best grown from fresh seed sown in trays filled with
a very well-drained seedling mix in late summer or early spring.
Once sown, the seed should be lightly covered and kept watered until
germination takes place. The seedlings are very prone to damping
off and so watering should be carefully monitored. Once potted into
individual pots, the plants need to be grown until the underground
stem develops, after which they can be planted out.
S.Nonjinge & B.B.Tarr
Natal National Botanical Garden