Lion’s tail (Leonotis leonurus)

Also called lion’s tail, this plant is a colorful and wonderful specimen belonging to the mint family, which has been used since ancient times due to its slightly psychoactive effects.

Origin of Leonotis leonurus

Coming from southern Africa, in areas inhabited by indigenous tribes who are believed to have used it for the first time, it stands out for having effects that are very similar to those caused by cannabis, although more subtle, which is why it receives the name of Wild Dagga, which would be translated as “wild cannabis”.

But despite being slightly psychoactive, this herb is characterized by being totally legal in most countries ; Furthermore, due to its incredible appearance, it is often cultivated as an ornamental plant. In the same way, we can point out that its flowers stand out for being quite resinous and for having a high nectar content, which allows it to attract fauna.

And because of its legal status, this herb is often commonly used as a mild substitute for cannabis, since despite not being really the same, it allows a similar but a little less intense psychoactive experience.


The Leonotis leonurus is a shrub that grows around 2m in height, whose stems differ by having a quadrangular section. It has lanceolate and opposite leaves which can reach approximately 7-10cm long and 2cm wide. Its flowers are born vertically around the axils of the upper leaves; Likewise, they bloom between spring and autumn, and tend to grow around 6cm long, standing out for being bright red or orange.

How to plant it?

By having the Leonotis leonurus seeds ( which must be verified so as not to confuse it with other similar ones ), it will be time to start cultivating it. When the weather turns out to be good enough, it is possible to grow it outdoors without problem, however, when the weather is cooler, it is best to plant it in pots that can be easily protected during the coldest days; in any case, make sure it has good drainage.

About your care

Next, we will talk about some points to keep in mind about lion tail care:

  • It is also characterized by being a very simple plant to grow outdoors when it comes to areas with a Mediterranean climate, relatively close to the coast.
  • Although it is not a very demanding plant in terms of the type of soil, the truth is that it tends to prefer slightly clayey soils.
  • It is necessary to place it in an area exposed to sunlight and do not forget that the lion’s tail is not capable of withstanding frost, although it does bear periods of drought well.
  • It is necessary to prune this plant well during the spring so that it can re-sprout with greater force, and throughout the other times of the year it is enough to remove those leaves and branches that are dry.
  • The multiplication through its seeds is usually quite complicated, although the opposite is true when doing it with cuttings; in addition, it has to be carried out during spring or when autumn arrives.

A plant widely used in traditional medicine

Traditional medicine has used this shrub, before cooking, orally and topically in order to treat multiple pathologies and ailments, such as headaches, hemorrhoids, constipation, itching, eczema, etc. In the same way, both its leaves and its dried flowers have been smoked for the purpose of alleviating the ailments caused by epilepsy, as well as to treat spider bites and also cobra bites.

However, we must point out that the scientists dedicated to their research have indicated that studies must continue to be carried out in order to guarantee its quality, efficacy and safety in future patients, apart from those who have resorted to its use exclusively because of the medical effects that has.

What are its effects?

The effect of this herb is the same as that of mild sedatives ; it may produce a slight euphoria, while increasing the feeling of both well-being and relaxation in users. However, we must mention that it does not have the powerful blow that cannabis offers, and also that it usually takes a small period of time before it manifests itself when used progressively.

This plant has also been used, in a traditional way, due to its antispasmodic properties, as well as for being a great antihistamine. Likewise, other common applications of Leonotis leonurus consist of using it to treat menstrual and digestive problems, colds, coughs, skin problems, parasites and even snake and spider bites, as we previously mentioned.


The lion’s tail has leonurine, a chemical component which stands out for having been widely used within traditional medicine for the purpose of treating a wide variety of ailments including, apart from the already mentioned pathologies, also fever, hemorrhoids, dysentery and asthma.

Both its leaves and its roots are used to prepare a treatment created especially to cure snake bites, as well as to use it as a natural remedy to keep these reptiles away.

The infusions prepared with its leaves and flowers are used in the treatment of tapeworms. Likewise, its branches are usually added to warm baths in order to relieve certain conditions, for example, itching and cramps. Similarly, it has been considered as a great treatment for weight loss.

Finally, we must also say that the aqueous extract present in its leaves has great antidiabetic and anti-inflammatory properties, which are of great help to alleviate and keep under control different ailments, arthritic conditions and different inflammatory pathologies, highlighting the type 2 diabetes mellitus developed in adulthood.

The most traditional and frequent application consists of smoking it alone and/ or accompanied by other mixtures, and even better, in a vaporized form, because in this way it is possible to achieve a better and greater inhalation of the active compounds it has, which usually be destroyed by the combustion process.

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