Monsonia glauca Knuth
Common names: dysentery herb (Eng.); naaldebossie, keitabossie, keitabossie (Afr.).
This is a perennial herb with a woody base growing in scrubby grassland.
Monsonia glauca is an erect, decumbent or prostrate, perennial herb up to 400 mm tall, with a woody base. Stems are densely covered with gland-tipped hairs. Leaves are opposite, ovate, basal mostly folded along midrib, cordate at base, with toothed margins. Flowers are white or creamy with dark greenish veins, with petals shallowly lobed at the apex. Fruits are held erect, 65-100 mm long.
Monsonia glauca is Red-Listed as LC (Least Concern) by Raimondo et al. in 2009
Distribution and habitat
Monsonia glauca occurs in the four northern provinces of South Africa, Limpopo, North West, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, and also in the northern Eastern Cape. The habitat is grassland and bushveld in the summer rainfall interior of South Africa. The distribution of Monsonia glauca extends beyond Namibia, Botswana and Zimbabwe, well into tropical Africa, including Kenya.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Monsonia was named after Lady Anne Monson (1714-1766), great granddaughter of Charles II of England, botanical collector who collected plants in India (Bengal) and South Africa (Cape of Good Hope) with Thunberg and Masson. The species name glauca is Latin for glaucous or bluish-green.
Monsonia glauca grows amongst grasses at an altitude of 600-1700 m, in scrubby grasslands, or in mopane woodlands, on stony soils.
Although the common name dysentery has been applied to these herbs the medicinal use of the plants could not be established. It is presumed that the plant could not be a cause of dysentery (Blundell , 1987; Manning , 2009 )
Growing Monsonia glauca
Monsonia glauca is easily grown from seed although it is not commonly cultivated as a horticultural plant.
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National Herbarium, Pretoria
Plant Type: Perennial, Shrub
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape, Limpopo, North West
Soil type: Sandy, Loam
PH: Acid, Neutral
Flower colour: Green, White, Cream
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Average