Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Lion's Tail
Leonotis menthifolia

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Leonotis (lee-on-OH-tis) (Info)
Species: menthifolia (men-thih-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)

3 vendors have this plant for sale.

24 members have or want this plant for trade.

Tropicals and Tender Perennials

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

24-36 in. (60-90 cm)
36-48 in. (90-120 cm)

USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction
Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Bloom Time:
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Blooms repeatedly

Good Fall Color

Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Soil pH requirements:
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
From seed; sow indoors before last frost
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds
Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds
Properly cleaned, seed can be successfully stored

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By Happenstance
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There are a total of 24 photos.
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21 positives
1 neutral
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive ikitty3 On Aug 2, 2014, ikitty3 from Gates County, NC (Zone 8a) wrote:

This year I planted this plant for the first time.

To my Surprise they have grown about 7/8 ft tall. They have been blooming since June.. yes .. June. I started them indoors and then I moved them to the flower bed in the spring.

Because I live by a river, its kinda "swampy" in my yard. I originally thought it was a Weed. Because the leaves were very similar to other weeds in the flower bed.

But then, it just started growing taller and taller faster and faster!
However, I read many reviews and I wondering how to "Harvest" the seeds. I want to plant it in other locations in my yard.

Some of the information is quite vague, I pulled a "ball" the other day to see what I could do as a test.

I pulled all of the "Prickly" edges off and eventually there was just a small solid center?

Can someone please send me a message on how to harvest the seeds?
This plant is Beautiful and I would love to plant them all over my yard next year! Thank You!

*Also, how far down do I cut them so that they will come back next year (I plant to put mulch on top for the winter, since last winter was so unusually harsh)
Gates County NC

Positive robbdogr On Mar 11, 2013, robbdogr from Long Beach, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

From some of the other descriptions posted, I think a few of the previous comments are by folks growing the much more common Leonotis leonurus "Lion's Tail" which grows up to 6 feet tall. This listing is for a dwarf variety, about half as tall, leonotis menthifolia, but also commonly called Lion's Tail. This only grows about 3 feet tall, but is far harder to find for sale.

Here in the Greater Long Beach area of Southern California, these are perennials and they are green year round. They blend in nicely with salvias and iris and are a good addition to the back of the border. They aren't invasive, but they do self sow occasionally. My first plant came from the LBCC horticulture spring sale. They can get by on winter rain fall and very infrequent summer watering. Great plant for drought tolerant gardens.

Positive Type_o_ On Jun 3, 2010, Type_o_ from Compton, CA (Zone 10a) wrote:

I purchased 2 young plants from the local College's Horticultural Department as "African Lion's Tails". Easy to grow. They love full sun and and are hardy once established. They tolerate arid conditions well after growing to about a foot or more. Mine usually grow 9 to 12 feet tall.
The orange flowers that grow from the spiky pods look like small Lion's tails. Hummingbirds love them. As the pods mature, they turn brown at the top while the flowering portions progress downward.
Once the pods have turned brown, you can cut them off, tip them upside down and rattle the seeds out. A few taps and you have loads of seeds.

Positive mellogardener On Apr 8, 2010, mellogardener from Boulder Creek, CA (Zone 9b) wrote:

my husband had one delivered to me a few years ago instead of cut roses for our anniversary in december. i thought i'd lost it the first year but it has now bloomed for me a couple of years in a row. this year is the best! the foliage is big and happy, the blooms lasted a long while, and i have a seed pod that appears to have 3 plump seeds just about ready to be harvested....but the pod is still green so i'm just watching. i keep it under a deck during the hot summer which keeps it cooler. i keep it there too during the worst of winter for protection from the cold. however, in november/december it goes by the front door and stays there until the sun starts to hit that area and it gets too hot. yes, its in a pot. i find that i do have to move it around to keep it alive and well.

Positive MBright On Nov 13, 2009, MBright from Lakeside, CA wrote:

I was wondering what to do about this plant; I now have three. I found answers by reading the comments as to whether I should prune them after bloom and just leave them alone. I believe either way will work but pruning would give them a little more shape. Thank you.

Positive maramouse On Jun 10, 2009, maramouse from Llano, TX wrote:

I now have two varieties of this plant. My first (going on its 2nd year in the garden) has the long slender leaves. It wintered well here in the Texas Hill Country with a mulching. I just planted the second variety which has small round - almost scalloped leaves. The bloom ball on this plant appears a little coarser than the plant with the slender leaves. I would appreciate any assistance with the names of the two varieties and any other information regarding the differences, uses and origins.

Positive Brug_Hugger On Mar 19, 2009, Brug_Hugger from Mathews, VA wrote:

I grow the Var. L. NEPETIFOLIA, in Zone 7A/7B I'm right on t/line. This is also known as KLIP DAGGA. Native to Tropical Africa & Southern India. Have had plants grow to 6/8 ft. tall & just as wide in growth. Flowers are orange but can be red, white, & purple. Selfseeds readily & comes back every year. Very little pest problems & tolerates the heat, an excellent plant.
Medicinal properties- Relaxant, coughs, fever.
When smoked, has a very relaxing eurphoric quality & is stronger than L. MENTHIFOLIA.
Highly recommend growing KLIP DAGGA for it's beauty, charm, & for medicinal properties. You should be aware that this one doesn't have as many flower petals & forms on a rather SPINY BALL. But I'm very pleased with this one over t/ Var. L. Menthifolia, simply because of it's Medicinal value (much more potent)! Happy Gardening!

Positive Theresa On Nov 24, 2008, Theresa from Marine City, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:

First year growing this unusual beauty. Mine grew over 12 ft tall!
Its hard to gather seeds from as the flowers are very picky and dont seem to want to give up their seeds very good. Im anxious to see if they come back from fallen seed.
Im now sharing this plant with lots of garden friends.

Positive pigneguy On Jan 23, 2007, pigneguy from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

......smoking or drinking the flowers as a tea helps with insomnia......

Positive BamaBelle On Dec 3, 2006, BamaBelle from Headland, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

This plant is also called Lion's Mane and Wild Dagga. Here in SE Alabama it provides beautiful color to the Fall garden. It grows quite abundantly, despite the drought we had this summer. This plant started out in a small 1 gallon nursery pot and has now grown to fit a 10 gallon pot and is about 3-4 feet tall.

Positive Cissyo On Oct 31, 2006, Cissyo from Westport, MA wrote:

I used Lion's Tail in container here in SE New England. We have had some soft frost and it is still going strong. Very easy to start from cuttings. A beautiful cut flower that lasts in the vase for weeks! My new favorite friend.

Positive katrun On Oct 24, 2006, katrun from Alexandria, VA (Zone 7a) wrote:

I was given 2 plants as baby ( 2inches tall ) in a trade. I planted them in the spring. They grew to about 6 feet tall!!!
They just started blooming in the first of September .
I am in zone 7. I will try to save the seeds. I was told it was hardy to my zone when given to me. I will post an up date next spring for u zone 7 people! I hope they reseed!
I have them planted in full sun.
Nice back ground plant.
Taller than my HollyHocks!

Positive LarryDavid On Aug 13, 2005, LarryDavid from Salt Lake City, UT (Zone 5b) wrote:

Very unique and interesting plant. I love to grow lion's ear for the comments I get from neighbors and the hummingbirds love it! Great annual (in my zone).

Positive daigu On Jun 5, 2005, daigu from San Anselmo, CA (Zone 9a) wrote:

Wonderful plant that grows very well in the limestone, caliche, and clay of the Edwards Plateau. I cut it back and mulch in the fall and it grows back in early spring. First flowers appeared in May this year. I water them weekly; normal height is 24 inches or more here. Very tolerant of fierce sun and poor soil; requires only watering and appears to be impervious to disease and insects.

Positive cissyb On Jun 4, 2005, cissyb from Woodbine, GA (Zone 8b) wrote:

Unusual looking plant, sure to draw comments from everyone that sees it in bloom. Did some pruning and stuck the pruned pieces directly in soil and they rooted easily and are doing great.

Positive s4jjohns On Apr 14, 2004, s4jjohns from Red Bluff, CA wrote:

Love the plant. I just wanted to note that it tis easy to propagate cuttings. Out of around 90 cuttings only one died.

Positive Organik On Dec 17, 2003, Organik wrote:

I am in love with this plant! The orange flowers are happy and Dr. Seuss-like. We call this palnt the 'giant orange ball flower'. I originally collected the seeds in southern Madagascar, and have been growing them outdoors here in Bloomington, IN., for the past five years. They are strong attractors for humming birds, bees, moths, ants and other beasties. I have thousands of seeds, free to anyone for the asking. ''.

Positive suncatcheracres On Oct 31, 2003, suncatcheracres from Old Town, FL wrote:

I just saw this beautiful flower last night at a friend's home in a flower arrangement on the kitchen table. It was so cute with the little green seed pod sticking up about four or five inches out of the center of the flower. My friends grow it in Gainesville, Florida (USDA Zone 8b) in full sun and it reseeds itself.

Positive Happy_Planting On Oct 31, 2003, Happy_Planting from New London, WI wrote:

I was thankful for how easy it was to grow since I could only grow it as an annual it bloomed only (maybe) two months. I'll have to start indoors a little sooner next spring.

The Lion's Tail that I grew was the variety in the pictures above. It was easy to grow yet it seemed very responsive to varied watering conditions.

If started indoors, be aware that the plant grows very fast and the roots may become pot-bound very fast. The sooner they can be planted outside the better.

Positive dho1655 On Oct 28, 2003, dho1655 from Belvedere Tiburon, CA wrote:

Here I don't even give them any water but the summer is mild (San Francisco Bay area, California) but they bloom freely anyway & seems to be toally carefree & immune to disease. Plant is deer-resistant which is a big plus for me.

The exotic-looking blooms always invite comments. They do get big so it's probably best to put them against a south fence. The only downside is they reseed freely so I have go out and pull up the seedlings every winter. A heavy pruning after bloom keeps them from becoming ungainly.

Neutral MotherNature4 On Sep 17, 2003, MotherNature4 from Bartow, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant reseeds freely in zone 9a. In fact, it can become a prickly pest in orange groves and fence rows. Flower arrangers like the dried stems and pods.

Positive Happenstance On Aug 29, 2003, Happenstance from Northern California, CA wrote:

Small evergreen shrub, native to South Africa, superior form to L. leonurus because it retains foliage to the ground as opposed to becoming woody.

Full sun, orange flowers resemble fuzzy lions tails. Prune for shape a couple of times a year.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Headland, Alabama
Joiner, Arkansas
Prescott, Arkansas
Belvedere Tiburon, California
Boulder Creek, California
Carlsbad, California
Clayton, California
Clovis, California
Compton, California
Fairfield, California
Fontana, California
Lakeside, California
Long Beach, California
Menifee, California
Merced, California
Napa, California
Richmond, California
Salinas, California
San Diego, California
San Francisco, California
Santa Ana, California
Bartow, Florida
Fort Myers, Florida
Fountain, Florida
Hollywood, Florida
Jacksonville, Florida
Kathleen, Florida
Lake Placid, Florida
Lake Worth, Florida
Orlando, Florida
Panama City, Florida
Brunswick, Georgia
Woodbine, Georgia
Philo, Illinois
Wichita, Kansas
Barbourville, Kentucky
Mandeville, Louisiana
Thibodaux, Louisiana
Zachary, Louisiana
Westport, Massachusetts
Maben, Mississippi
Madison, Mississippi
Concord, New Hampshire
Woodbine, New Jersey
Roswell, New Mexico
Aquebogue, New York
Eure, North Carolina
Hulbert, Oklahoma
Vieques, Puerto Rico
Beaufort, South Carolina
Alvin, Texas
Austin, Texas (3 reports)
Conroe, Texas
Galveston, Texas
Huntsville, Texas
Jacksonville, Texas
Llano, Texas
San Antonio, Texas (2 reports)
Spicewood, Texas
Salt Lake City, Utah
Christiansted, Virgin Islands
Alexandria, Virginia
Mathews, Virginia
Olympia, Washington
New London, Wisconsin
Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

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