Wild Dagga (Leonotis leonurus) Species Confusion

Wild Dagga is a nickname used for a wide variety of plants from the leonurus strain of plants of the Mint family. The leonurus plant got this nickname as being an alternative to marijuana or "Dagga" in South Africa. In Mexico a strain of leonurus is given the nickname MARIHUANILLA or (Little marijuana). Strains of leonurus have been used all over the world for medicinal purposes as well. It is said to have a calming affect and is used in some cultures to relieve addiction.  There are several varieties, often unwittingly offered on websites that are not true Wild Dagga.  Below is a discussion of the most common species ordered.  What the entheogen enthusiast is looking for is Leonotis leonurus or "Lion's Tail."

Leonurus sibericus (Siberian Motherwort)

Also known as MARIHUANILLA (Little marijuana).  This is the strain most often sold on "legal high" websites becuase it is plentiful and the plants produces resinous buds that look somewhat similar to Cannabis.  Unfortunately, this strain is low in leonurine, the active component sought after by those interested in entheogens.  The inhabitants of the rugged and remote mountainous region in the Mexican state of Chiapis call this herb Marahuanilla. It is also known by as Siberean Mugwort and as Chinese Motherwort, and has been used traditionally in Chinese medicine to treat infections, circulatory and menstruation disorders, as well as for constipation, boils, snake and insect bites.

 

Leonotis nepetifolia (Lion's Ear/Klip Dagga)

Also known as Lion's Ear. This strain of Wild Dagga is an annual, and is most often confused for Leonurus leonotis, or "Lion's Tail."  The leaves on this strain are much wider and heart shaped, unlike the Lion's Tail, which has long, narrow leaves.  This strain is supposed to contain more leonurine than any other strain of Wild Dagga, but this has never been documented by lab work.  Grows very quickly to 8' tall and likes full sun. Flowers occur in globes (2.5-3.4 cm) slightly prickly to touch with thin leaves immediately underneath. Flowers are orange and tubular with four stamens with white filaments.  Stem is very rigid and square, plant is taprooted. Common in fallow fields.

 

Leonurus artemisia (Yi-mu-cao/Chinese Motherwort)

According to Steven Foster's wonderful book, Herbal Emissaries, L. artemisia is the true Chinese motherwort, not L. sibericus. A self-seeding annual, this is the smallest and most delicate of the motherworts. Willing to grow in the poorest soils, plants should be thinned to eight inches. Again, this plant is easily controlled by hoeing out seedlings that might appear where you don't want them. Grow specs: 3-4 feet. Average soil. Full sun.

 

Leonurus cardacia (Common Motherwort)

This strain of wild dagga is a Perennial, has lavender flowers and likes full sun to part shade.  Not a native to the United States, but brought here as as useful herb by early settlers from Europe. This plant was used as a heart (cardiac) stimulant by herb doctors, and also for women's disorders (which is why "mother" is part of the name). This plant was found in everyone's herb garden along with the other old-fashioned standards like catnip and tansy. The pale lavender flowers cluster in a whorl around the square stem. Each whorl of flowers sits at the base of the pair of leaves.

 

Leonurus leonurus (Lion's Tail)

This is the most widely distributed plant, and the true "Wild Dagga" known for its mildly euphoric qualities.  This plant emits a wonderfully pungent lemon scent when its growing, and needs lots of sun but very little water.  This plant is a perennial has orange flowers, needs a very long growing season.  When buying Wild Dagga on the Internet, this is most likely the foliage and flowers that you will receive.

 

Further Articles for Wild Dagga

Dispelling Wild Dagga Species Confusion - An easy to read comparison.

The Diterpenoids of Leonurus leonotus - An interesting clinical study.

Dagga/Yopo Experience Report - A positive story by an unknown author.

Folk, Traditional, and Medical Uses for Wild Dagga - Explained in detail.

Growing Wild Dagga - Cultivating Leonotis leonurus plants.

Botany of Leonurus (Mint Family) - From the Herba database.

Hottentot Tribes and Wild Dagga - Brief history of who the Hottentot's were.

South Africa's Nature - One explorer's account.

Synthesis of Leonurine - A brief abstract.

Motherwort - The True Dagga Plant - Ancient plant with many uses.