Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Leonotis leonurus vs Leonotis nepetifolia

Last week I posted about a shrub in my garden called Leonotis leonurus. It  attracts sunbirds who sip the nectar from the bright orange petals of the bloom.

Over the weekend I completed an article for a South African magazine. I wrote about this plant and the benifits it offers in a garden. When I looked closely at the leaves, I decided to do a bit of research on it. Turns out it's not the Leonotis leonurus (which is indigenous to South Africa) but a native plant to tropical Africa (which includes Kenya) and Southern India. The plant I showed in my post is a close relative of the SA species and is called Leonotis nepetifolia. The leaves are different to the SA plant. Take a look:

Leonotis leonurus foliage - the South African species
Leonotis leonurus in full bloom - the South African species

Leonotis nepetifolia foliage - native to tropical Africa and Southern India
And again

Leonotis nepetifolia in full bloom with a female sunbird enjoy nectar from the bright orange petals

I thought I'd clear this up. Often on blogger, when you least expect it, someone catches you out! So it's official. The plant in my garden in Kenya is Leonotis nepetifolia. BTW The soft leaves of the second plant resemble the catnip plant of the mint family. (Nepeta spp)


  1. It is a lovely plant. I'm glad someone knows the proper name, but doubt I can remember it. The photo of the bird getting the nectar is fab!

  2. Ah, then that would be why it is called "nepetifolia" then, Holmes.
    Indeed, Watson, indeed.
    (You're Holmes and I'm Watson.)

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie’s Guide to Adventurous Travel

  3. With research comes learning.

  4. Well I'm glad that you got that sorted. Now I know why I don't research botanical names.

  5. The leaves do look different, though the flowers look similar. Great job on your research, Jo!


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