There is a humble grey bush with splendid yellow flowers that grows in the misty mountains, on the tail-end of the Drakensberg mountain range in Limpopo province, and it goes by the name of Helichrysum splendidum.
In one’s passing, it exudes a calming, herbaceous aroma. The extraction of its oil involves an intriguing family of pioneers: the McMahons. Theirs is an interesting story, dating back to Julie McMahon being a young girl who was interested in medicinal plants, and when she married Mark, a man with a strong drive to break new ground, it was the perfect combination. Not interested in following the conventional timber farming trend of the area, and avoiding causing harm to the local and critically endangered Woodbush Granite Grassland, a dream was born.
With Julie’s father, Clifford Thompson, having dabbled in essential oil production before, their interest was piqued. They experimented with many wild plants, with the aim of discovering a species from which a valuable essential oil could be extracted, but one particular plant stood out with potential – Helichrysum splendidum – and it showed its remarkable properties, which are seemingly endless. It turned out to be a true gem.
The process of harvesting and extracting Helichrysum splendidum essential oil, more commonly known as Southern Immortelle, is a very low-footprint operation, with the bulk of the plant being wild harvested using sustainable methods, the only by- products are distilled water, plant humus and a little wood smoke!
What set out as a business idea turned into a journey toward health and wellbeing being led by the plant itself.
Daily tours of the distillation unit as well as products for sale. Bookings essential.