Family MalvaceaeMedium to tall shrub up to 900 mm high, branching at the base, ascending branches with narrow leaves neatly arranged on the branches. Petiole absent. The upper margins of the leaves sometimes with a narrow red-brown rim. Flowers arranged in two or three at the tip of the leafy branchlets. Lemon yellow flowers exserted from a red calyx, strongly twisted.
Distribution: coastal fynbos in the Bredasdorp-Riversdale District.
Hermannias possess strong, thick, rootstocks and underground stems, which enable them to withstand fires in the highveld and overcome times of severe drought in arid areas. They are mostly very palatable to stock and small game, and are generally heavily grazed. Some species are an indication of good veld.
Economic and cultural value
Many members of the genus are used medicinally, for anything ranging from respiratory diseases, coughs and internal aches, as stimulants or purgatives, to soothing wounds and cuts. The common name pleisterbos ( Hermannia cuneifolia ) refers to the use of the leaves as plasters. In some plants the leaves are infused in a tea, and used to clean the blood. A root infusion was used by the early European colonial settlers against epilepsy. A lotion of the leaf was used for eczema and shingles. Certain species have magical significance and are used to drive out spirits and to wash the divining bones. H. depressa is used as a protective charm by the Zulus. H. hysopifolia is used in making an aromatic tea. Only one species has been found to be toxic to stock ( H. tomentosa ), but it is doubtful whether animals will browse this plant in the veld.