isiXhosa: kleinwildetabak

Afrikaans: unozitholana

dream root


dream root

Silene undulata

Scientific name

Silene undulata is a sticky, glandular, perennial herb up to 60 cm tall. The opposite spatula-shaped basal leaves are up to 15 cm long and the smaller lance-shaped leaves on the stem up to 8 cm long. The flowers at the tip of the stems are glandular and sticky. The spreading petals are white or pinkish.

This small herb is used as a 'dream plant'. Plants have been used worldwide for thousands of years by diviners and shaman to induce states of lucid dreaming in order to receive divinatory messages. Such sacred plants are classified as oneirogens, from the Greek oneiros meaning dream, and gen meaning to create.

Silene undulata appears messy in a garden bed or formal situation but is a delightful sight on dull days and evenings when the flowers open. They are very fragrant, particularly in the evening. Growth habit is lax and the many dead flower stems need to be cut away at the end of the flowering season.

Propagation instructions

By seed

The seeds are easily grown, but only on well-drained soil. They should be sown in autumn or spring in a seed box or open ground and kept slightly moist. When the young plants are about 5 cm tall they can be planted into position or thinned out. Compost should be added if the soil is very sandy.

References and further reading

PlantZAfrica profile »

Wikipedia page »

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Important characteristics

Conservation status: Least Concern

This species was selected because it has various important characteristics.

It provides medicinal value

Fragrant

Easy to grow

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