Lion's Ear (Leonotis nepetifolia) Info
In terms of planetary correspondences, Lion's ear (or lion's ears) has got to be a Jupiter herb. Like many plants ruled by that planet, it's a very imposing critter that really makes its presence known in your yard. There is something more than a little sceptre-like about its shape (Jupiter being a very kingly planetary influence), and it is named after the lion, a Jovian animal if there ever was one. That makes this magick herb good to use in protection spells and in charm bags for courage.
This plant has long been used medicinally in various parts of sub-Saharan Africa, and the knowledge of this herb was carried to the New World by enslaved people. As far as its medicinal uses go, lion's ear's planetary influences are all over the celestial globe. For instance, in Trinidad, people boil the leaves and breathe in the steam as a treatment for asthma (Elemental Air). It's also a home remedy for diabetes in that country. In the Guayanas, people use this plant to deal with cramps and diarrhea, and as a diuretic (Moon), for kidney stones, skin diseases (Venus), swelling, thrush (a fungal throat infection), uterine contractions (Venus), wounds (Venus), and yaws. In the Congo, it is fed to cows who are not giving any milk (Venus) and is used to treat dysentery (Moon). In Africa, people smoke the leaves as a substitute for marijuana (those expansive feelings are very Jupiter).
In the Garden
This herb is the only member of the Leonotis family that has naturalized all over the world in tropical areas. Lion's ear can even be found growing wild throughout the southeastern US. It is considered a pest in Hawaii and Australia, but elsewhere it is not invasive and makes a great, easy-to-grow annual. Butterflies and hummingbirds love the wonderfully weird furry little flowers (the ears). The flowers are striking and last a long time when cut. When you pick them, wear gloves to protect yourself from the spiny seed heads. The stems are square, as is typical of the mint family, and the leaves are shaped like those of catnip (thus the nepetifolia - "catnip leaves"). They are soft rather than being leathery, like Leonotis leonurus. Lion's ear is also known as shandileer, klip, dagga, daggah, ball bush, cat's ear, and chandilay.
How to Grow Lion's Ear
This plant is a perennial in zones 8-11
(Deep South, Pacific Northwest, no prolonged temperatures below 40F) and an annual everywhere else. The seeds can take 10 days to germinate.
Once the plant has two sets of true leaves and has been hardened off (gotten
used to outside temps and sun), transplant to
lots of sun, rich soil, and heavy feeding (try odorless fish emulsion) so that
this plant can gain its width of 4 ft/1.5 m and height of up to 8 ft/2.4 m tall. Leaves
get 2-5 in (5.1-12.7 cm) long. It should bloom the first year, but make sure it gets sufficient water.
It naturally has a long growing season, so if you want to see flowers on the
plant and you live in the north, gradually plant it up to a very
large pot and bring it inside in the winter. In spring put it
out after all danger of frost is past, and it should flower. Do not water much
in winter whether it is inside or outside (in subtropics, winter is dry
time). It can be grown indoors in a sunny
window and of course will not get anywhere near as tall, not only because
it is in a pot but because it loves sun. This
is a lanky plant, so if you want it to be bushy, cut it back.
The flowers come out in the
cooler months, and the plant likes room to get flowers. If it is crowded,
it will just keep on growing up and making leaves. to harvest the
seeds, cut off the ripened (brown) spikey pods and put them in a
paper bag to dry for a couple of days. Shake the bag and collect
the seeds from the bottom. It is very difficult to break these spine
balls apart. You can propagate
this plant by stem cuttings. Just cut off a three-inch piece of stem
and dip immediately in rooting hormone, which you can get at most gardening
stores. Then stick it in some sterile soil, something specifically
sold for growing seeds, that has been wetted with liquid kelp solution. The
stem piece should make roots in 2-4 weeks. General
growing info Top
Uses in Witchcraft & Magic:
© 2005, 2014 Harold A. Roth; No reproduction without permission