General Info

Plant usually a shrub with angular branches up to 4,5m high. Elliptic, simple, densely toothed Leaves lack stipules. The base is decurrent. Small white Flowers in panicles with didynamous stamens. Fruit is a small drupe.


Lippia javanica, Lantana galpiniana, Lippia asperifolia, Verbena javanica.

Common names: Fever Tree, Fever tea, Lemon bush, Beukesbosssie, Lemoenbossie.

Family: Verbenaceae (Verbena family – generally aromatic). Here members may be herbs, shrubs or small tree. The simple, often aromatic Leaves lack stipules and may be entire or serrate. They are usually opposite or whorled. The bisexual Flowers may be 2-lipped. The persistent Calyx is usually 4-5 lobed and is somewhat accrescent (continuing to grow after flowering). The tubed Corolla is 4-5 lobed. There are usually 4 didynamous (having 4 stamens disposed in 2 pairs of 2 different lengths) stamens. This characteristic is common in Scrophulariaceae, Labiatae and Stilbaceae e.g. Bowkeria citrina). These stamens arise from near the middle of the corolla tube. Anthers have 2 parallel or divergent thecae (pollen sacs) with longitudinal slits. The superior Ovary usually has 2 locules each with a single ovule. Fruit is a drupe (a fleshy, 1-seeded indehiscent fruit with the seed enclosed in a stony endocarp; stone fruit e.g. peach). 2-4 nutlets or pyrenes are produced. The family has up to 36 genera and in excess of 1 000 species. In southern Africa, there are 8 genera and about 40 species.

Name derivation: LippiaAfter Augustin Lippi (1678-1705). He was a French doctor, explorer and botanist. javanica – from Java: but this is not true. There are about 200 species in Africa and America and 6 in southern Africa. The genus Lippia is widespread in the Western Cape.

Conservation Status: L C (Least Concern). Raimondo et al. (2009).


The plant may be single or multi stemmed. The Tree may reach 4,5m high but is usually a shrub.  Branches are angular and twigs are roughly hairy.


The elliptic and simple (have a single blade which may have incisions that are not deep enough to divide the leaf into leaflets) Leaves may be opposite or, occasionally, in whorls of 3 or 4. They have a serrated, densely toothed Margin. The distinctive Veins are indented above and clearly protruding below. Both sides of the leaf are soft, hairy and light green. Individual leaves are up to 5 x 2cm. The Base of the leaf tapers and is decurrent (leaf blades that partly wrap or have wings around the stem or petiole). Crushed leaves have a strong, pleasant smell. Leaves lack Stipules (basal appendage of the petiole).


A bract supports each small, sessile Flower. They occur in globose Spikes (simple indeterminate inflorescence with sessile flowers on a single unbranched stalk), which mature into more of a cylinder shape. The Calyx has 2-4 accrescent (continuing to grow after flowering) lobes. The Corolla is whitish and the Petals are slightly bilabiate. The 4 Stamens are didynamous (having 4 stamens disposed in 2 pairs of 2 different lengths) and do not emerge from the corolla mouth. The Anthers have parallel theca (pollen sacs). The superior, 2-locular Ovary has a thickened Stigma.


The Fruit is a Drupe (or stone fruit is a fleshy, indehiscent fruit with the seed enclosed in a stony endocarp. Seeds lacks endosperm (the starch and oil-containing tissue of many seeds; often referred to as the albumen). It is similar to Lantana camara but lacks prickles.

Distribution & Ecology

This plant is common in disturbed areas and may be found in grassland, woodland, bushveld (is a sub-tropical woodland ecoregion of Southern Africa) and forest fringes. This species occurs from the Eastern Cape northwards through Botswana, Swaziland, Mozambique, Malawi, Tanzania, to Kenya. Possibly, because of the contents of the aromatic leaves the plant is seldom browsed.


The plant has volatile Oils that include caryophyllene, cymene, ipsdienone, myrcene and linalool and are the reason for the plant being commercially grown. The perfume industry makes use of these oils. Much use of this plant occurs in traditional herbal preparations. he plant is easily grown from seeds.


Boon, R. 2010. Pooley’s Trees of eastern South Africa. Flora and Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.

Coates Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of Southern Africa, edn 3. Struik, Cape Town.

Schmidt, S. Lotter, M. & McCleland, W. 2002. Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and the Kruger National Park.

ID Thanks to SANBI