Monsonia angustifolia


Family: Geraniaceae
Common names:
Crane's bill; alsbos, angelbossie, teebossie (Afr.), malengoana (Southern Sotho), Tee ya thaba (Sepedi)


Monsonia angustifolia is an annual herb with wavy leaves found in open grasslands and often along roadsides throughout South Africa and tropical Africa.

Monsonia angustifolia is an annual herb that grows up to 0.5 m, although usually shorter. Stems are slightly woody at the base, pubescent and covered with very short gland-tipped hairs among the longer stems. Leaves are narrowly oblong or elliptic. Margins are irregularly toothed with cuneate bases. Flowers are mauve to blue, or rarely white or yellowish. Fruit are held erect, 50–90 mm long.

Leaves and stems. Form with white flowers.

Conservation status
Monsonia angustifolia is Red Listed as Least Concern.

Distribution and habitat
Teebossie is widely distributed in the southern African region where it is found in South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Namibia and Mozambique. It usually occurs on granite, often on rocky areas and along the side of roads.

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Monsonia was named after Lady Anne Monson, a botanist and collector of plants and insects. The specific epithet, angustifolia, is Latin meaning narrow-leaved.

Monsonia angustifolia seeds are dispersed by wind and water during rain. Flower colours attract insects and bees for pollination.

Uses and cultural aspects
Teebossie is a traditional herb used for the treatment of erectile dysfunction and for the enhancement of libido. Further information from traditional practitioners indicate that it is used as a sexual stimulant and blood cleanser. It is speculated that it is the plant known as ‘Special' used by some religious group members as a blood cleanser. Teebossie is also used to treat medical conditions such as heartburn, anthrax, diarrhoea etc.

Growing Monsonia angustifolia

Monsonia angustifolia grows easily from seed. It is not commonly cultivated as a horticultural plant.

References and further reading

  • Bailey, L.H. & Bailey, E.Z. 1976. Hortus third , edn 1: 3. Macmillan, New York.
  • Bruneton, J. 1999. Toxic plants: dangerous to human and animals . Lavoisier Publishing, France.
  • Dreisbach, R.H. 1971. Handbook of poisoning . Lange Medical Publications, Los Altos.
  • Hardin, J.W. & Arena, J.M. 1974. Human poisoning from native and cultivated plants . Duke University Press, Durham.
  • Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G. & Cunningham, A. 1996. Zulu medicinal plants : an inventory. University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.
  • Moll, E., Moll, G. & Strebel, R.C. 1989. Poisonous Plants . Struik, Cape Town.
  • Palmer, E. 1985. The South African Herbal . Tafelberg, Cape Town.
  • Roberts, M. 1990. Indigenous healing plants . Southern Book Publishers, Halfway House.
  • Watt, J.M. & Breyer-Brandwijk, M.G. 1962. The medicinal and poisonous plants of Southern and Eastern Africa , 2nd ed. E. &S. Livingstone, Ltd, London.


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Thabo Masupa

National Herbarium, Pretoria

January 2014










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