Klip Dagga (Leonotis Nepetifolia) is a flowering plant which originates from tropical Africa, but can now be found in Central and North America. It is part of the lamiaceae family, along with other kitchen herbs, such as mint, thyme and rosemary. Other names are Lion’s Ear, Christmas Candlestick, Tilley’s Curse, Shandilay, and Grantiparani.
Klip Dagga is an annual plant that can be grown indoors, but thrives outside. It can be grown in a wide variety of soil types, but prefers well-drained rich beds. Many people who grow it prefer to use pure compost as a growing medium to maximize plant health, leaf and stalk size. Mature plants can reach up to ten feet in height despite having a very shallow root system. Plant Klip Dagga in full sun (they thrive at temperatures of 86° and higher. Once established, they grow quickly and will soak up as much water as you can give them. Without regular and generous amounts of water, these tall plants will start to tip or lean in one direction. We recommend using tall stakes to support your plants once they reach two feet in height to help support the weight of the flowers.
The plant itself is loosely branched, with semi-thick green stalks which are angular in appearance. (when you cut the stem it appears squarish in a cross-section). The leaves are wide and triangular-shaped, smooth to the touch, and in opposite pairs along the stem. The rounded flowers develop in small spiny clusters that encircle the plant stem. It looks like the stems are growing right through the middle of the clusters. As the stems grow taller, new flower clusters will appear higher up. The spikes of each spiny cluster will open up on the tips, allowing orange furry petals to emerge; some say these look like a lion’s ear, which gave the plant one of it’s common names. These orange petals are about one to two inches in length and curve downward. Many growers harvest the flower petals regularly throughout the season by gently pulling on each petal, which releases it from the pod.
In the fall, after all the flower petals have been gathered, the spiny clusters of the Klip Dagga plant can be cut away from the stems and dried. As they dry, tiny black seeds will be released, so it’s important to dry them in such a manner to capture the seeds. A kitchen baking sheet or other tray works well for this part of the process. Also, the leaves can be harvested in the fall and dried separate from the flower petals.
History of Use in Natural Medicine
As noted, Klip Dagga originally comes from tropical Africa, where it is used to treat multiple ailments. The most common applications are for fevers, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, malaria, dysentery and snakebites. It was also used to both stimulate or suppress menstruation in women, using different dosages to reach desired results. Decoctions of the entire plant are used to cleanse the uterus and as a diuretic.
The leaves can be made into tinctures or teas to treat mild pain. Klip Dagga has anti-nociceptive properties (inhibits pain sensations), is anti-inflammatory and hypoglycemic. Because of this, many people use this herb to manage arthritis and other conditions which produce inflammation. Klip Dagga is also used for heart conditions associated with anxiety and hypertension. It helps with symptoms of irregular heartbeats and will calm heart palpitations.
Leonotis Leonurus has been shown to posses antispasmodic effects and appears to inhibit acetylcholine and histamine; making it a natural antihistamine. It is also used as a sedative in natural medicine.
Klip Dagga has a long history of being used as a smoking herb and an alternative to smoking cannabis. The flower petals are dried and smoked either alone, or mixed with tobacco or added to herbal smoking blends. The effects are similar to the effects of smoking cannabis; a mild euphoria and happiness.
Klip Dagga versus Wild Dagga
Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus) and Klip Dagga are often confused with one another. They are botanical cousins, both are used for smoking and both grow tall with similar flowers. The leaf structures however are vastly different. Wild Dagga leaves are elongated and look more like hemp leaves as shown in the picture above. Also, Wild Dagga is a perennial that requires a long growing season whereas Klip Dagga is an annual. Klip Dagga is known as Lion’s Ear, while Wild Dagga is known as Lion’s Tail.
Klip Dagga contains more leonurine, a pseudoalkaloid, than any strain of Wild Dagga. Alkaloid-containing plants have been used by humans since ancient times for therapeutic and recreational purposes. They produce euphoric effects when consumed. Users claim the sensation is good, but not as good as cannabis. Others suggest that a superior high can be achieved by mixing Wild and Klip Dagga, but we cannot provide any empirical research to validate or refute any of these claims.
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