Wild Rosemary

Eriocephalus africanus

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

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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. The Wild rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus) has small delicate white flowers that are well known for its medicinal qualities and in water-wise gardening. As an indigenous plant to South Africa it is also known to withstand the most adverse conditions of weather, soil and habitat. With its herbaceous freshness and a hint of green floral the scent is much softer than Rosemary and an excellent shrub for every garden. ZA Distribution: Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Western Cape.
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Flowering time

Summer, Autumn, Winter, Spring

Fruiting time



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.



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


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


Special features


Indigenous to South Africa

Natural climate




Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture


Soil type

Loam, Sand, Clay

Soil PH preference

Acid, Alkaline, Neutral

Frost hardiness




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


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




Flower colour

Purple, White




The major diseases identified in wild rosemary include box blight, root disease and powdery mildew. The major insects identified in wild rosemary include aphids, spider mites, gall midges and rosemary leaf beetles.


profile iconEriocephalus africanus
by Liesl van der Walt, Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden, June 2000 (Copyright South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa)
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Knowledge and advice

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