Vernonia oligocephala has an extended set of common names reflecting its status as a medicinal, noted and valued plant of the South African countryside. Among these names are the Afrikaans wilde tee (wild tea), groenamarabossie (little green amara bush), bitterbossie (little bitter bush) and the Zulu (and Swazi) ihlambihloshane and uhlungushloshane.
Groenamara is a medicine for some stomach ailments still known among some South Africans (not derived from Amaranthus plants, but from this one). Apart from the possibly useful information of the plant being used as tea, it has served in some unknown way to ward off hailstorms; an application that some may find worth investigating. Leaves and young stems are used, rarely the roots.
The plant is a low-growing, herbaceous perennial, producing annual stems from a perennial, woody rootstock. The many erect stems sometimes reach 1 m in height, usually less.
The species is distributed in north-eastern South Africa and in Africa as far as Angola and Malawi. It grows in rocky grassland (Pooley, 1998; Van Wyk, et al, 1997; www.plantzafrica.com).
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