Athrixia phylicoides

Insp Indig athrixia phylicoides ed140 may14

Common name: Bushman’s tea, Zulu names: ishayelo, iphephetha, Xhosa name: icholocholo, Sotho name: Sephomolo.

This member of the Daisy family flowers for much of the year and is certainly a pleasant find in the grasslands as they turn gold at this time of year. The dusky mauve flowers with yellow centres and green leaves (felted grey underneath) blend beautifully with the rest of the faded colours in the landscape. Found throughout Eastern South Africa in rocky areas, on the edges of forests and in bushveld. Reputedly this bush was brewed as tea in times gone by. It is still used to make hand brooms. Medicinally, many uses are recorded – root decoctions are taken as cough remedies and roots mixed with leaves are used for bathing sore feet. Leaves are chewed to cure sore throats and whole plant infusions are used as blood purifiers. According to Anne Hutchings’ wonderful publication ‘Zulu Medicinal Plants’, root infusions reportedly have aphrodisiac properties and their use is discouraged among bachelors. Athrixia grows from cuttings and would make a great addition to a sunny autumn garden.