The area where I am now living is Gordon’s Bay. Gordon’s Bay is best suited for the indigenous fynbos that can survive the winds and heat. If something is sensitive to winds it need protection here. Most of the trees here lean into one direction with the wind facing side blasted bare. The Cape Doctor – the south easter reigns supreme here but with the result the air here is always fresh and filled with the scent of the fragrant fynbos.
Right now the Wild Rosemary (Eriocephalus africanus) or locally known as Kapokbos is in flower. It is called Kapokbos because the flowering heads turns into a mass of soft downy white which from a distance looks like snow (kapok) against the mountain slopes. In the past people used to collect the heads and stuff pillows with it for a lovely fragrant sleep. They are also called wild Rosemary because they have much the same properties as Rosemary. It has traditionally been used as a medicine for many ailments like coughs and colds, flatulence and colic, as a diuretic and a diaphoretic and has an invigorating effect on the skin and hair. I also use it in cooking as a delicious alternative to Rosemary, which always reminds me of Karoo lamb.
To my delight they grow in profusion wild everywhere here against the mountain slopes in the salty coastal air. So, of course I have been out harvesting. The scent is much softer than Rosemary, yet still with a herbaceous freshness and with a hint of green floral. The oil distilled from Eriocephalus africanus is readily available and for me has the most characteristic scent reminiscent of salty sea air. You can clearly smell the saltiness in the oil that mingles with its fresh herbal greenness, it is really good for any oceanic blends. The fresh herb in bloom has a most remarkable scent. When I am drying it the whole house is filled with its freshness. Its scent is spiritually uplifting and inspires beautiful dreams. The dried herb is also beautiful in incense blends.
Eriocephalus africanus oils improve with age. You can also get great variety in the oils. The timing is very important for harvesting. Some of the indigenous oils have a very short time frame for harvesting. Eriocephalus punctulatus (Cape Chamomile) has an especially short time frame between flowering and when it forms seeds.. The oil contains linalyl acetate, cymene, 1,8-cineole and 4,11-eudesmanediol. It is similar to Cape Chamomile in scent, but with greener less fruity notes.