Photo and text by Annalise Falzon
This hardy native which grows virtually anywhere adds a touch of brightness to any drab landscape with its yellow flowers between September and November -a great pollinator plant especially for caterpillars of butterflies and moths. It is not the most popular of plants owing to its sticky leaves with glandular hairs which release pungent oils. Its highly aromatic properties are often perceived as unpleasant and indeed its strong smell was thought to repel fleas (‘fleabane’ from the archaic word bane which refers to plants with toxic qualities). This perennial shrub has long been used as a medicinal plant in the Mediterranean region for its various properties: antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and even antipyretic. It is reportedly used in ailments such as bronchitis and diabetes. Although it is mentioned as causing possible allergic reactions upon contact, it is nevertheless known to be used widely for skin ailments and to aid wound healing.
Currently its compounds are being studied further for its application in biological pest control as well as a potentially valuable source of bioactive molecules for preventive or therapeutic applications.