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Brachylaena discolor

(Wild Silver Oak)

These medium sized evergreen trees are frost resistant, drought resistant and are happy in the sun or the shade. It tolerates poor soil and coastal winds so is useful to stabilize sand dunes at the coast.The cream flowers are rich in nectar and open in summer. They attract birds like the shrikes and the orioles, butterflies and mammals. The leaves are browsed by Nyala, Bushbuck,Diuker and the Black Rhino strip the bark. The early settlers burnt them and used the ash to make soap whereas the Zulu diviners use the stems and roots to communicate with their ancestors. It is used medicinally as the leaves are pounded and ingested for intestinal parasite and roundworm. discolor means varying in colour which refers to the dark upper leaf and the silver under leaf. It is also used as a tonic for diabetes. The wood is used for carving, boat and hut making, fencing and spear shafts. It has non-aggressive roots so can be planted 3 meters walls or in pots. It is also useful as a hedge or windbreak.

Deinbollia oblongifolia

(Dune Soap-Berry)

This small evergreen tree is drought resistant and fast growing in the shade. It produces white/cream flowers in Autumn which attract insects and insect eating birds. The round yellow fruit is eaten by people, monkeys and birds. It is the larval host to many butterfly species like the Emperors, Playboys, Foresters and Hairstreaks. It’s useful for containers or bonsai as it has non-aggressive roots. It is an attractive garden plant which can also be used indoors. Traditionally the seeds are used to make soap, the leaves are eaten as spinach and browsed by game and the roots used medicinally for gastric complaints. Named for Peter Vogelius Deinboll 1783-1874, a Danish entomologist, clergyman, Parliamentarian and collector. His insect collection is the oldest in the Natural History Museum in Oslo.

Plectranthus purpuratus

(Vicks Plant)

This very fast growing groundcover grows to 40cm high and 40cm wild. It thrives in shade or semi-shade. It has fuzzy, crinkled leaves with purple veins. The leaves are aromatic hence the common name of Vicks Plant. It produces tiny little white or purple flowers. It is an ideal plant for a hanging basket on a patio or in a container under trees. It has a lovely drooping habit as it scampers over the edge of containers. This is the larval host plant for Bush Bronze, Mocker Blue, Eyed Pansy, the March Commodor and the African Leaf Commodor butterflies. The name is derived from the Greek plektron = a spur; anthos= a flower. These plants have conspicuously spurred flowers.

Sansevieria hyacinthoides

(African Bowstring Hemp)

This is an extremely durable and tough plant with long, linear leaves, often with light green contrasting horizontal markings. It will grow in full sun but is far more vigorous and attractive grown in shade. It makes a large stem of long, narrow blooms, followed by orange fruit in summer. The leaves of Sanseveria are cut and heated and the leaf sap is dripped into the ear for earache and toothache.The root is used to treat haemorrhoids, and internal parasites. Chopped root is boiled, cooled and then strained and the liquid is drunk for preventing a miscarriage and easing childbirth. It is also drunk to provide protection from being bewitched. The leaf is pounded and twisted to reveal a strong and durable twine which is used for baskets, mats, hunters bows, snares and fishing nets. It can also be used to make paper. These plants have been exported overseas for years. It is an ideal plant for indoor containers as it purifies the air. The discoverer of the Sansevieria, Vincenzo Petanga wanted this plant named after Pietro Antonio Sansevierino (1724-1771) who established a garden of rare and exotic plants in the south of Italy but Carl Thunberg named it after Raimondo di Sangro (1710-1771) an Italian nobleman, inventor, soldier, writer and scientist.

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