The late-flowering lion’s tail shrub is growing in the herbaceous plantings in the Autumn Garden.
This native of temperate South Africa has distinct whorls of bright orange, velvety flowers, which occur intermittently along the erect, velvety stem. The individual, 2-lipped flowers and square stems of this species are typical of the mint family (Lamiaceae) to which it belongs. Growing to 2m in height, Leonotis leonurus occurs in tall grassland at altitudes up to 2000m, and in the garden requires a sheltered position in full sun. It has long been used in traditional medicine to treat a range of conditions including fevers, asthma, coughs and dysentry, and also as a treatment for snake bites, and to charm snakes away. The name Leonotis is derived from the Greek leon, meaning lion, and oura, meaning tail, and refers to the form of the individual flowers.