Have you ever seen The Lion’s tail

Eco News

Leonotis dysophylla is a strange plant with its strange and bold appearance. It grows as a weed in waste lands usually untroden for many years. It is also seen growing in old deserted and broken houses where nobody goes. It is also called as Lion’s tail.

Leonotis ocymifolia and L. dysophyla is a slender shrub growing 1 – 5 metres tall, branching from a thick, woody base. The plant is sometimes harvested from the wild and used locally as a condiment and medicine. It is found in India, Eastern and Southern Africa – Sudan to Ethiopia, south and west to Angola and most of southern Africa.

It grows well on rocky outcrops and in well-drained soils on hillsides at elevations from 1,000 – 2,000 metres, but descending to sea level in the south of its range.

According to some researchers, this plant has immense ethno –herbological uses. The resin obtained from its leaves is smoked by some tribals.

This species was originally cultivated as a medicinal herb. The Hottentots tribesmen of South Africa utilize it as an inebriant. It has been touted by some references as a legal substitute for achieving marijuana-like effects when smoked.

 Leonotis leonurus is used fairly extensively in traditional Chinese and Vietnamese medicines. The active compound is an alkaloid called leonurine. Due to its widely documented medicinal properties, L. leonurus should be considered potentially poisonous.

The genus name appears incorrectly as Leonitis in some references. L. ocymifolia is sometimes listed as the scientific name for this taxon. But it is considered by others to be a synonym for Leonotis dysophylla G. Bentham. It  is a closely related species that is not as showy in flower.

A drying Leontis in the wild
Photographed by the author

 These two species appear to be somewhat confused in the literature, but can be distinguished by the near linear to oblanceolate leaves and darker colored flowers on L. leonurus compared to the broader ovate to cordate leaves, lighter flower color, and greater cold tolerance with L. dysophylla.

Dr. MP Mishra

Dr. M. P. Mishra is a noted environmentalist of India. He is known for his researches in environment conservation, wildlife activism, and for his writings. He has been internationally known for his Bird Housing Project which was devoted to protection and conservation of terrestrial bird species especially in Jharkhand. He has a deep study of the people of Jharkhand, their rituals, arts and crafts and has wandered extensively to study their conditions, their agriculture, their modes of lives, and their skills. Since last many years he has been continuously writing about various environmental and social issues of Jharkhand and has forty six books to his credit. His articles are regularly published in local and national dailies of India. His books on Environmental Awareness, Environmental Science, Environmental Studies, General Science, and biology are widely read and many of his books have been adopted in the schools of foreign countries. His books on Environmental Science have been adopted by the Council of Higher Secondary Education, Orissa, and the Council of Higher Secondary Education Nagaland and Meghalaya. Dr. Mishra is an excellent teacher with innovative ideas and new teaching methodologies. It was due to his commendable services to education that the Department of Human Resources Development, State Government of Jharkhand offered him State Award in the year 2009-010.Dr. Mishra has been awarded with the Presidential Medal and the National Award for the year 2012 for his outstanding Researches in and great contributions to Science and Environment. He has been an active Science Communicator and coordinator of National Council of Science and Technology Communication, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. He is a member of the Environmental Monitoring Committee under the Jharkhand Academic Council, Jharkhand, Ranchi. It was due to his voluntary services in the field of environment that he has been selected as a nominee of the Committee for Ethical Treatment to Animals, Ministry of Environment and Forest, Government of India. He has been the Chief Editor of ECOSOC the Environmental Newsletter of International Circulation for more than ten years. He has been the President of the People for Animals for about ten years. As a teacher he is always admired by his students and the academic community across the globe.


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