Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. Welcome to this weeks’ “Weekly Plant of Interest”. We’ll be looking at a small perennial herb that grows in summer rainfall areas and tends to conceal itself between tufts of grass.
Dichoma anomala (commonly known as Fever Bush in English, Aambeibos in Afrikaans and hloenya in sisotho), is a small monocotyledonous plant with stems approximately 50-600 mm long. Dichoma means “two-tufted” (Di-two & coma – tuft of hairs) and refers to the hair-like appearance of the floral bracts. Anomala is Latin and means irregular or deviating from the normal. D. anomala is widespread, growing in stony poor-soiled grasslands and in the crevices of rock sheets up to 2075 m A.S.L.
D.anomala is a reclining herb, with long narrow leaves (90mm long by 2-10 mm wide) which are green above and velted white beneath. The most noteworthy part of the plant is its conspicuous flowerheads (30-50 mm diameter) of a bleached purple-pink hue with sharply pinted narrow bracts. The small branchlets tend to curve upwards. The flowers are in full bloom from Jan – May but are visable in their dried state through most of the year as an off-white colour.
Traditionally the plant has been used in the treatment of a wide-variety of human and plant ailments, some more in-depth descriptions of its uses may be found online. Interestingly enough a compound (identified as dehydrobrachylaenolide) in this plant has recently gained interest in the pharmaceutical industry as it has been found to bear anti-plasmodial properties that act against the malaria microbe.
Other human uses:
Consumed in a beverage as a variation of herbal tea. Could potentially make for an interesting household ornament in its dried state. Can be planted in gardens under variable soil conditions.
Not threatened (CITES), however caution is advised as this plant is widely harvested for its medical values.