Lippia javanica

Botanical name

Lippia javanica

Other names

Fever tea; beukesbossie; zinziba; koseret




A woody, aromatic shrub, usually reaching about 0,6 m in height

Description of stem

Much branched from ground level; yellowish cream to light brown longitudinally fissured stems

Description of leaves

Simple, opposite or whorled in 3's; rough with conspicuous net-veining, indented on the upper surface; rough to the touch on both surfaces; margin dentate; a pungent, rather pleasant fragrance reminding of verbena or lemon emanate from crushed leaves, even when dry

Description of flowers

Small white flowers in rounded teminal and axillary clustered spikes, appearing in summer and autumn

Desciption of seed/fruit

Small, inconspicuous and dry

Description of roots



Analysis has shown the chemistry to be varied across plant populations

Propagation and cultivation

From seed or cuttings


Sometimes associated with disturbed areas and decreasing vegetation


Used as a potpourri for cupboard freshening; more a herb garden prospect than for flower gardens; steam distillation has yielded a useful essential oil; used in skin lotions and aqueous cream; leaf smoke used in treating coughs, bronchitis and asthma; leaves used to treat skin irritations, including those occurring in AIDS patients; a mosquito repellent

Ecological rarity

Common and hardy

Pests and diseases





Bushveld, river embankments, forest edges and grassland

Distribution (SA provinces)

Gauteng, Limpopo, Northwest, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal


South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and many central African countries up to Ethiopia

Lippia javanica; Photographed by Ricky Mauer

L. javanica seed; Photographed by Ricky Mauer