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Aloe variegata

(Kanniedood)

This groundcover aloe grows to 25cm and is frost resistant and water wise as it occurs in the cold parts of the Karoo. It grows in the full sun and produces light to dark coral pink flowers in spring which attract birds. If planted in a pot, be sure not to over water it. It is used medicinally for curing sores on fingers. Porcupines dig them out of the ground in great numbers. According to old superstitions, if someone transplants one of these aloes and it dies, that person too will die. Mine died in the garden so I guess my days are numbered! The word Aloe comes from the Greek and refers to the bitter leaf gel.

Aptenia cordifolia

(Brakvygie)

This is an evergreen, fast growing succulent, which grows to 250 mm tall. The roots are fleshy and thick and the green leaves are also fleshy, flat and heart- to oval-shaped. Flowers are purple to red, shiny and small. The flowers are self-fertilized and open from spring to autumn. They open during the bright hours of the day (midday to early afternoon). It is an ideal plant for coastal gardens as it tolerates sea spray and grows in sandy soil. It can be used in rockeries, terraced slopes and along roadside or embankments to prevent soil erosion. It requires full sun or semi-shade so it can be planted under trees. It is a medicinal plant as the leaves and stems are burnt and applied as a poultice to painful joints and used as an anti-inflammatory. It is also used magically as a love charm and a charm against sorcery. It is given to babies as a mild enema and the leaves are used as a deodorant against perspiration. The name comes from the Greek 'apten' meaning wingless which refers to the wingless seed.

Crassula multicava

(Fairy Crassula)

This is an evergreen groundcover which is water wise and will happily grow in sun, shade or semi-shade. The pink flowers open in spring and attract insect eating birds and butterflies. It is lovely mass planted under trees as it doesn’t require much soil or water and won’t compete with the tree’s roots. It is ideal for small gardens, planting in containers or hanging baskets. The flowers are long lasting in the vase. It is also a medicinal plant as it is a strong emetic. This is the larval host plant for the Tailed Black-eye butterfly. Named from the Latin 'crassus'= and 'ula'= diminutive referring to the fleshy succulent leaves.

Lampranthus sp

(Vygies)

A valuable addition to any garden as their iridescent flowers are seen in spring and summer. Their striking colours are a highlight after the drab winter garden when only the Aloes are in flower. They are all drought resistant and creep along the ground creating a carpet of striking colour. They attract butterflies and are useful in rockeries, along a path or in a hanging basket. They are frost resistant and fast growing. The leaves vary from dull ,dusty green to a bright, light green. The name is derived from the Greek lampros = bright, shining; anthos = flower; referring to the light reflecting off the glossy petals.

Portulacaria afra prostrata

(Elephants Foot)

Dwarf Elephants Foot is another very versatile plant that grows in full sun to deep shade. It produces lavender coloured flowers in summer. It is water wise and has arching, trailing branches with reddish brown stems. It would be ideal in a pot, to scamper over the edge, a hanging basket or even retaining walls. I saw it flourishing in the baking hot sun in the Kruger Park, in a retailing wall at one of the rest camps in very harsh conditions.

Veltheimia bracteata

(Bush Lily)

These beautiful flowers look a bit like an Aloe. They stand about 50cm tall and are a striking pink-red or yellow in colour. They are deciduous during mid-summer. These are shade loving bulbs growing naturally in the coastal forests of the Eastern Cape. They are happy growing in a pot on a patio. Named for August Ferdinand von Veltheim ( 1741-1801] a German mineralogist, with interests in geology, Archaeology and civic matters. He was an inspector of mines and wrote a geology. He developed a beautiful botanical garden at the Castel in Harbke and was a patron of botany. He received an honoral PhD and was appointed a count by the king of Prussia.

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