Leonotis Species, Dwarf Lion's Ear, 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)



Tropicals and Tender Perennials

Water Requirements:

Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping

Sun Exposure:

Full Sun



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us


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)

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


Handling plant may cause skin irritation or allergic reaction

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

Bloom Color:


Bloom Characteristics:

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

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Summer

Late Summer/Early Fall

Mid Fall

Blooms repeatedly

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:

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


This plant is said to grow outdoors in the following regions:

Headland, Alabama

Joiner, Arkansas

Prescott, Arkansas

Belvedere Tiburon, California

Boulder Creek, California(2 reports)

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

Tulare, 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

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Nov 5, 2019, UKgray from leicester,
United Kingdom wrote:

I live in Leicester, UK, US zone 8. I grow this as an annual from seeds saved the previous year. I also grow L.Leonorus, which is hardy here and has more flowers than this one.


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... read more


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. Gre... read more


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.


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.


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.


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.


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... read more


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.


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

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


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.


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.


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!


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).


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.


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.


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.


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. '[email protected]'.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.