Inspector Indigenous – Pentanisia prunelloides

Insp Indig pentanisia prunelloides ed147 dec14

Common names: wild verbena, broad-leaved Pentanisia; Afrikaans name: sooibrandbossie; Zulu name: icimamlilo; Sotho name: khatoane

Large colonies of Pentanisia in full bloom are colouring hillsides a beautiful blue, right now. The plants are dormant during winter, with new leaves and flowers emerging from the woody rootstock in spring to flower for a few months. The large underground root mass enables this plant to survive drought, fires and trampling by livestock. The tubular flowers are pollinated by long tongued moths and butterflies.

The roots and leaves are used in traditional medicine to treat a wide range of ailments – swollen joints, heartburn, vomiting, burns, fever, kidney complaints, toothache, tuberculosis, snakebite and haemorrhoids. The Zulu name means ‘that which puts out the fire’ and in Afrikaans the name means ‘heartburn shrublet’, so it has obviously been used extensively. Pentanisia is also used as a protection against sorcery and as a good luck charm in finding a job.

Pentanisia grows easily from cuttings, so it certainly seems worth having in your garden, as it appears to cure almost everything! Do not attempt to dig plant out of the wild, besides being illegal, it is impossible to lift the entire root and any damage to the root causes it to rot.