Gnidia capitatum - Lasiosiphon capitatus

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Botanical Name
Gnidia capitatum - Lasiosiphon capitatus
Thymelaeaceae - The fibre-bark and gonna family.
NY-dee-uh kap-ih-TAY-tum
Common Name(s)
Afrikaans: Gifbossie; Kerrieblom; Kerriebossie
IsiXhosa: Isidikili; umsila wengwe
IsiZulu: Isidikili
Sesotho: Thopana; Thopa; Thopa-e-nyenyane; Setele
Setswana: kgôsi-ya-ditlhare
Plant Group
  • Shrub A woody plant of relatively low height, having several stems arising from the base and lacking a single trunk; a bush.
Plant Size
  • Small
    Tree4m to 8m
    Shrub50cm to 75cm
    Perennial/ground cover10cm to 20cm
    Bulb20cm to 30cm
    Succulent10cm to 20cm
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Frost: Hardy The plant can withstand freezing temperatures or frost without artificial protection.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
Specific Information

Gnidia capitatum is a small, low branching, shrub. Leaves are quite small, broad and sharply pointed. They are slightly hairy with an attractive silvery-white margin. The stems become woody with age.

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a thin tube of about 3 - 4 cm long, flaring open with five narrow, pointed, slightly retracted lobes

  • Spring to Summer Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • yellow
Growth Rate
  • Moderate Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Border A strip of ground, at the edge of a driveway or path in which ornamental plants or shrubs are planted.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Rock Garden An area constructed of larger rocks, arranged naturally, to emphasise the use of stones as a main element. Generally plants used do not need a lot of care.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

in the provinces of the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West, the Free State and Gauteng, as well as Botswana and Namibia, in arid, semi-arid scrub and grassland habitats

Planting Suggestions

This is not a plant you would be able to find at a nursery, but it would appear that it could be a useful garden plant for dry gardens. Seeds would have to be collected, planted in well drained soil and kept moist but not wet. Young plants should be planted in full sun or with a little shade in well drained soil. Some compost and a thick layer of mulch will aid progress. Water frequently until well established then lengthen periods between water applications until the plant is water wise. It would probably a good idea to tip off growing points while the plant is still young to encourage bushiness. This plant looks as though it will tolerate only light pruning after flowering as I have found that woody shrubs do not always recover from severe cutting back.

Lorraine's Garden Notes

I found almost no information about this plant and much of the content was gathered through my own observations.

Medicinal Uses

Gnidia capitatum was used for stress-related ailments and the leaves were ground, then smoked, to treat stomach, ear and toothache. For headaches, the leaves were ground to a powder and used as snuff.Fresh, bruised  leaves were made into poultice for toothache.

A decoction of the roots was used to treat heartwater and anthrax in cattle.

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