Annual Lion's Ear, Devil's Pincushion, Lion's Tail

Leonotis nepetifolia

Family: Lamiaceae (lay-mee-AY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Leonotis (lee-on-OH-tis) (Info)
Species: nepetifolia (nep-eh-ti-FOH-lee-uh) (Info)
Synonym:Leonotis nepetaefolia



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m)


Not Applicable

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun


Plant has spines or sharp edges; use extreme caution when handling

Bloom Color:

Scarlet (Dark Red)


Bloom Time:

Late Summer/Early Fall



Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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:

Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed

Allow seedheads to dry on plants; remove and collect seeds

Wear gloves to protect hands when handling seeds


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

Daleville, Alabama

Concord, California

Los Angeles, California (2 reports)

Martinez, California

Temecula, California

Denver, Colorado

Grand Junction, Colorado

Apopka, Florida

Bronson, Florida

Fountain, Florida (2 reports)

Jacksonville, Florida

Lutz, Florida

Mulberry, Florida

New Port Richey, Florida

Port Orange, Florida

West Palm Beach, Florida

Waycross, Georgia

Pukalani, Hawaii

Farmersburg, Indiana

Greenwell Springs, Louisiana

Brown City, Michigan

Ocean Springs, Mississippi (2 reports)

Roswell, New Mexico

Greensboro, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina (2 reports)

Hulbert, Oklahoma

Newberg, Oregon

Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania

Vieques, Puerto Rico

Columbia, South Carolina

Austin, Texas

Colmesneil, Texas

Hallettsville, Texas

Hutchins, Texas

Iredell, Texas

Temple, Texas

De Pere, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Mar 31, 2013, grebetrees from Austin, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I purchased this species from my local nursurey abouth three years ago. There it was billed as "Giant Mexican Agastache", so I purchased it expecting genus Agastache. The plants grew and grew, taking over at least seven feet of my raised bed, where later in the year it reseeded freely. The tiny seeds spread far and wide, hitching rides in pots and seemingly on the wind. Now I never know where one will pop up. It became a weed in the vegetable garden, so it would be best planted in an area where you will be content to see it year after year. It is no surprise the local master gardeners' group view it and L. leonurus as potential invasives.

The dried flower heads are painfully spiny, thus the Devil's Pincushion appellation.


On Feb 21, 2011, brfoley76 from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

rtruck - you might be too late worrying about this plant escaping into the wild of LA. I've noticed it in gardens in my neighborhood, and it's been spreading rampantly through my own garden for the past couple of year... I only figured out what it was today, we'd been calling it "Manly Sage" because of its striking growth habit and distinctive seed heads.

The seedlings are easy enough to weed out, so I'm not to worried about them taking over the garden. But they just won't stop flowering, and the hummingbirds love them, and the little birds love the seeds. And they seem to come back year after year - a great, no hassle plant that brings wildlife to the yard!


On Jun 28, 2010, clantonnaomi from Iredell, TX wrote:

Everyone labels this plant as an annual; however, I live in zone 8 and this plant comes back every year. I live in central Texas and this winter we had temperatures drop to 7 degrees. This is unheard of in this part of central Texas and I just knew that this plant would not come back. Well, it did and it is just doing great. I have had this plant for several years and I really enjoy it. I highly recommend it.


On Jun 15, 2010, rtruck from Los Angeles, CA wrote:

please be careful where you plant this in California...i bought some seeds over the internet and planted them a few years back. The plant has naturalized in my yard and comes back more and more every year. Seedlings by the thousands sprout in every possible crack. They invade my vegetable garden and everything else. My biggest fear is that they will leave my yard and get into local open areas....this plant is not yet listed invasive in California, but i am positive that it is HIGHLY invasive. Hummingbirds do love it, but my family and I are pretty tired of being struck in the face by those perfectly head-high spiked globes (seed pods)...they really are sharp...y'all know the routine, the person in front pulls them back to walk by them and then releases and the person in back gets plan... read more


On Mar 26, 2010, KFK4090 from Jacksonville, FL wrote:

KFK, Jacksonville, Fl - March 26, 2110
This is my second spring living in this zone and I have looked to my local nurserys to provide me with all my gardening info. This plant was recomended to me and I recently just planted 2 out back. They seem to be thriving so far and 1 is already budding. I am having trouble finding specific directions on how to prune this plant. Anyone that could offer any info. on how to do this, would be greatly appreciated! Thank you in advance!!!


On Nov 9, 2009, sugarbean from Raleigh, NC (Zone 7a) wrote:

I "borrowed" a few seed heads from a garden in Charleston, SC last fall. I started them in pots about May (a little late, I know) and I didn't get to plant them in the ground until last month due to illness. They were VERY root bound and spindly. It is the 2nd week in November in NC and they have flourished. They are 4 1/2 feet tall and are still blooming and growing. The goldfinches seem to love them too! I can't wait til next year!


On Nov 8, 2006, jessmerritt from (Zone 7b) wrote:

I grow the cultivar Leonotis nepetifolia 'Naivasha Apricot.' The source that I originally bought my seeds from for this plant claims that it is a perennial in zones 8 and above. So far this has been true for me in zone 7b. It's either that or it has been reseeding wonderfully. They grow to around 8-10 ft. tall and bloom from late summer into early winter for me. Not the showiest species, but I still love it in the garden.


On Sep 10, 2004, CaptMicha from Brookeville, MD (Zone 7a) wrote:

Started from seed early into the winter and transplanted into the ground in late spring, Lion's Ear has just started to bloom around late July.

Flowers are rather sparse and not quite as attractive as leonurus or menthifolia. It does look very interesting in a bed to break up the continuity of low plants.

Leonotis leaves and blossoms are gathered, dried and smoked or made into tea and uses as a marijuana substitue because of it's euphoric effects. It's also used in herbal medican as a purgative and vermifuge.


On Jul 21, 2004, Tree_Climber from Brown City, MI (Zone 5a) wrote:

This was a fast grower, and pretty sturdy. We get some pretty stong winds, and it stayed upright until the beginning of Fall, when the winds were just too strong.

It is very hard to collect seed from this plant. The flower heads are very spiky .... like little needles. The best way I could devise to harvest the seeds, was the following:

Wear Gloves!
Cut the seed heads off, and put them in a paper bag.
Let the seed heads dry for a few days (or longer) in the bag and then shake the bag for several minutes.
Most of the seed will fall to the bottom of the bag, and you can discard the seed heads .... make sure you still use gloves.
It is not worth trying to get more seed out of the heads, those little "needles" will get you right thro... read more


On Nov 3, 2003, chavela from Arvada, CO wrote:

My plant is in a two gallon container from the nursery in early autumn. It is over six feet tall! It will kill your fingers for weeks if you try to remove a seed pod by touching the pointed end. Use gloves or tweezers to break open a pod after it dries. I would like to plant outside but do not know if it will survive Colorado's winter (zone 5). I'm wondering if anyone knows, and, if it will survive inside until late spring. The bees loved it! It also has been a real conversation piece with my friends.


On Sep 17, 2003, saya from Heerlen,
Netherlands (Zone 8b) wrote:

Here in The Netherlands it started to bloom end of July and is still blooming. It's already about 250 cm and still making new staircases. Each staircase stays blooming - I wonder how high it will be when frost comes.

Wonderful plant, very architectural and something to talk over with my neighbours. Has nearly no foliage when it goes up; very nice silhouette.

Next year I'll grow it again, I'm sure.


On Aug 16, 2001, Badseed from Hillsboro, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:

This plant is very easily grown from seed and does well as an annual in cooler zones. I started seeds indoors in March and mine is about to bloom now in mid-August, which is about the same time it would bloom in its warmer perennial zones. It can also be grown from green wood cuttings taken in early spring or summer.