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A picture of a Wild Rosemary

Wild Rosemary

Eriocephalus africanus

Also known as

Cape Snow Bush, African Rosemary, Kapokbossie, Kapokbos, Wilderoosmaryn (Afr.)

Full Sun
Easy care
Moderate watering
Tender

8a-11b

USDA zone

-12°C

Minimum temperature

Expected size

Height
Spread

70cm

Max

80cm

30cm

Min

40cm

3 years to reach maturity

Flowering

  • spring
  • summer
  • autumn
  • winter

This plant has a mild fragrance

More images

A photo of Wild Rosemary
A photo of Wild Rosemary
A photo of Wild Rosemary
A photo of Wild Rosemary
A photo of Wild Rosemary

Overview

The fine, grey-green, aromatic foliage, the snow-white flowers and the fluffy cotton wool seeds ensure that this multi-branched low growing shrub has year-long appeal. Wild rosemary is indigenous to South Africa and able to withstand the most adverse conditions of weather, soil and habitat. This evergreen shrub has numerous leaf-adaptations to save water and prevent water loss, making it an excellent shrub for the waterwise garden. It also has a well-developed taproot that extends deep into the soil, and lateral roots to collect water closer to the surface. Eriocephalus africanus can be planted in full sun and needs well-draining soil to thrive. It can be lightly pruned to encourage branching and bushy growth. Wild rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus) has small delicate white flowers that later form soft, woolly fruit reminiscent of snow, hence the vernacular Afrikaans name 'kapokbossie'. The leaves are highly aromatic but much softer than that of rosemary and can be used in cooking (especially a favourite in a karoo lamb dish). Wild rosemary is well-known for its medicinal properties and is traditionally used to treat coughs and colds and to promotoe diuresis. Today, it is a valuable aromatic essential oil used in perfumes. ZA Distribution: Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape.

Harvesting

The young tops, leaves, flowers, seed and stems/sprigs are harvested for various culinary and medicinal use. For the preservation of natural plant growth, the plants should only be cut every third year, i.e. with a 2-year break between harvests.

Propagation

Seed

The seed may be sown in autumn or spring and germinate slowly and erratically within 10 days. Spacing in situ is 2 m.

Cuttings

Wild rosemary roots easily from tip or heel cuttings taken in spring or autumn. Plant in full sun and give ample water.

Special Features

Attracts birds

Fluffy seeds harvested by birds for the lining of their nests.

Attracts useful insects

Attracts bees and butterflies.

Drought resistant

High drought tolerance once well established.

Hedge plant

By pruning it into shape it makes a neat border hedge.

Pot plant

Small, new plants should be kept in their pots in a sheltered location for several months to allow the slow growing plants to form healthy root systems.

Attractive flowers

Pioneer

Uses

Medicinal

Traditionally used as a medicine for many ailments like coughs and colds, flatulence and colic, as a diuretic and a diaphoretic.

Edible

Wild rosemary can be used for cooking, in sachets and pot-pourris, as well as making tea.

Edible

Medicinal