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Ballota africana

   (Family: Lamiaceae)
   
Afrikaans: kattekruid, kattekruie English: Cat herb, Cape horehound  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Height: 0.3 - 1.2m
Special properties:
  Has Medicinal Uses
Rarity Status:
Common
   
Preferred rainfall: Winter
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Tolerated soil:  
  Sand (coarse texture, drains easily)
 
Flowering time EDIT
        x x x x x x x  
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
 
Pink
 
Purple
 
  Flower info
  The pink or purple flowers appear in dense clusters above each leaf pair. The green, hairy calyx that holds the colourful petals is the more prominent part of the flower and remains after the smaller petals have fallen. The old brown calyces that remain in small clusters down the stem make the plants easy to identify even when not in flower. The main flowering season is from late autumn to early summer (May to November), with a peak in spring.
 
 
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf margin
Leaf arrangement
Leaf texture Hairy
 
  Leaf scent
  Aromatic, pungent when crushed.
  Leaf info EDIT
  Evergreen
  The slender stems bear sparsely hairy, opposite leaves with a round to heart-shaped shape and a conspicuous pattern of sunken veins. They give the impression of drooping because they point downwards. The edges are toothed and the surface of the leaves is very uneven with strong lines and wrinkles formed by the veins.
 
 
Sow seeds in Spring
 
  Seed info EDIT
  Can also be grown from seed, sown in spring or autumn.
 
 
Description EDIT
An erect or spreading shrublet of up to 1.2m in height.
Even when no open flowers are present, the plant can still be recognised by the persistant calyx with its 10-20 teeth and the aromatic, somewhat drooping foliage.
Growing EDIT
Distribution EDIT
It is widely distributed in thewestern and southern part of Africa.
History EDIT
The medicinal use of this plant probably originates from the Khoi (and Nama) cultures, who used the leaves (often with the addition of various Salvia species) to treat fevers and measels.
Children along the west coast used to dance around the plant, singing "kattekruie, kattekruie, daar staan die kattekruie, dis 'n lekker kruie" ("kattekruie, kattekruie, there is the kattekruie, what a lovely herb").
Uses EDIT
To this day, infusions or brandy tinctures are popular in the Western Cape for the treatment of colds and influenza, asthma, brochitis, hoarseness, heart trouble, hysteria, insomnia, typhoid fever, headaches, liver problems, piles and as a foot bath for arthritis.

The leaves are steeped in hot water for 10 minutes and taken as a tea. An alcoholic tincture may also be prepared, of which a single tot is taken in the evening, particularly for the treatment of haemorrhoids.
Ecology EDIT
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References

 
  • Ben-Erik van Wyk, (2005), Medicinal Plants of South Africa ,Briza Publications  
 
 

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