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Panicum maximum

(Guinea Grass)

This perennial, tufted grass has a short, creeping rhizome . The stems of this robust grass can reach a height of up to 2 m. A bent stems touching the ground will root and produce a new plant. The leaf is covered in fine hairs. It remains green until late into winter. Spikelets are green to purple and flowering occurs from November to July. It prefers fertile soil and is well adapted to a wide variety of conditions. It grows especially well in shaded, damp areas under trees and shrubs and is often seen along rivers. It is most frequently found in open woodland, but also grows in parts of Mixed and Sour Bushveld. It is widely cultivated as pasture and is especially used to make good quality hay. If it receives adequate water, it grows rapidly and occurs in abundance in veld that is in a good condition. It prefers shade and damp areas and will do well under trees and shrubs. Water regularly. It can be planted successfully in plant containers around the home to attract seed-eating birds like the Bronze mannikin. It is the larval host plant for the Eyed Bush Brown and the Black-Banded Swift butterflies. The name is derived from the latin panis = bread as the seed is used in bread making.

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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