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Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hottentots Tea (Helichrysum nudifolium pilosellum)

Family Gnaphalieae

Description
Helichrysum nudifolium is a fast-growing, perennial herb. The leaves are rough and shiny above, white woolly beneath, in a basal rosette about 600 x 130 mm. They have 3 to 7 prominent veins and are aromatic when dry. The flowers are blunt-tipped and pale yellow in a crowded, flattish inflorescence at the tip of a long stalk. The flowering stalks can reach a height of 1.5 m. It flowers during summer and autumn (October to May).
Distribution
Helichrysum nudifolium occurs naturally in grasslands and is found from Eastern Cape (old Transkei), through the Drakensberg and Lesotho all the way up to tropical Africa. It is frost and drought tolerant as it comes from the high altitude in mountains.
Uses and cultural aspects Seldom is so much offered by such an easy-to-grow plant. Helichrysum nudifolium not only has a beautiful, upright growth form and a full yellow inflorescence, but also has many traditional uses. It is traditionally used for food, the leaves are cooked and eaten. Leaves are burned as incense and used in ritual ceremonial occasions to summon the good spirits of the ancestors. Medicinally the roots and leaves are used as traditional medicine for chest complaints, colic in children, coughs, colds, internal sores, fever, headaches, and for dressing wounds. H. nudifolium can be easily confused with H. pedunculatum that is commonly used by the Xhosa people to treat circumcision wounds and is known as isicwe.
Helichrysum nudifolium makes a good pot plant, the striking leaves provide an interesting contrast. In the garden it can be used as a border plant or in the mixed border. After flowering, the flower stalks should be cut back.
This plant is easily grown from seed sown in summer (November-February) and by division of large clumps in the winter months.
Snails are a common pest and can be removed by hand or by strewing table salt where trails are seen and activity is most common.
Info: http://www.plantzafrica.com