The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Lesser Yellow-head

Afrikaans name: Harige Gifbossie

A Lesser Yellow-head plant in flower at Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Lasiosiphon kraussiana

The Lesser Yellow-head is a perennial plant that gets bunched of bright yellow flowers on the end of each stalk. It normally flowers between late winter and early summer, but flowers may be present at any time during the year.

It prefers areas of grassland that are burned regularly. It grows to a height of 50 cm. The stalks of the Lesser Yellow-head are yellow but are brown on older plants. The leaves are around 3 cm in length and have pointed tips. The bunches of yellow flowers are sweetly scented.

This plant is very poisonous although their roots have been used for some medicinal purposes such as treating snake-bite wounds. Other traditional uses include treating toothache, insanity, boils, coughs and stomach complaints. The Lesser Yellow-head is poisonous to livestock. It causes the animal to become weak and perhaps have diarrhoea or a fever. In some cases, the animal may die.

The Lesser Yellow-head is found from South Africa to both West and East Africa and is a common species. In South Africa it is found in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal as well as the north-eastern regions of the country.

References and further reading

The Flora of the Natal Drakensberg - Author: Donald Killick - Published: 1990 - Page: 142

Illustrated Guide to the Wildflowers of Northern South Africa - Author: Gerrit Germishuizen & Brenda Clarke - Published: 2003 - Page: 118

SA Wild Flower Guide No 4 - Transvaal Lowveld - Author: Jo Onderstall - Published: 1984 - Page: 138

Field Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa - Author: John Manning - Published: 2009 - Page: 246

A Field Guide to Wild Flowers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 2005 - Page: 292


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