August 24, 2017

Just Call Me Kooigoed

Helichrysum petiolare - Licorice plant (lower right of photo)

Janine Pineo Photo | Helichrysum petiolare – Licorice plant (lower right of photo)

Helichrysum petiolare - Licorice plant

Janine Pineo Photo | Helichrysum petiolare – Licorice plant

Take one look at Helichrysum petiolare in that group of plants pictured and you might wonder which flower it is. It’s not. Best known as licorice plant here in the United States and sought for its woolly silver-gray leaves, H. petiolare would flower if we had a growing season and warmth like its homeland of South Africa. But the plant is cultivated here mostly as a filler for potted arrangements, which is too bad given its storied use in South Africa. It is prized medicinally for coughs, colds, infections, asthma, high blood pressure and as a pain reliever. To stave off infection, leaves are put on wounds. So what is “kooigoed?” It’s the traditional South African name for licorice plant and means bedding stuff. Turns out that all that aromatic foliage makes good bedding.