Greetings to all our Village plant enthusiasts. The rangers recently photographed a plant species that many of you will recognise from within the Clarens Nature Reserve and it may occasionally be observed on farmlands. This plant has become of interest in scientific literature, for reasons you will discover below.

This week we introduce Gnidia anthylloides, commonly known as Brandbossie (a close relative of Gifbosssie for which it is often mistaken) in Afrikaans. Many of the species from the Gnidia genus have historically been used in traditional medicines to treat multiple ailments (headache, sores, nightmares, snake bites, tonsillitis, etc.). Unfortunately ingestion of parts of the plants of this genus without proper preparation may result in severe irritant effects as well as death in humans and animals due to several types of toxins (hence the common name). Scientists are now rediscovering some truth in the use of plants of the Gnidia genus as extracts have shown antileukemic properties and several of the compounds may also prove helpful in the synthesis of analogs for treating various ailments. It is not eaten by livestock (for the obvious reasons) and may therefore become a problematic plant in overgrazed veld.

G. anthylloides is a slender silvery silky shrub that grows to between 0.4 and 1.2 m in height. It is commonly observed on steep grassy, rocky or shrubby slopes amongst boulders or rocky sheets at altitudes up to 2425 m A.S.L.  The leaves are 15-30 mm long, and appear to be crowded into a star-like formation on the upper stem. The flowers are hoisted by a slender calyx tube and are an unmistakable bright yellow and are observed in clumped heads.

Author: Damien Coulson