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Mentha longifolia

(Wild Spearmint)

An evergreen, fast-growing, perennial herb that creeps along the ground and spreads rapidly. It can reach up to 1.5 m high in favourable conditions, but is usually between 0.5-1 m high and even shorter in dry conditions. The small flowers of Mentha longifolia are crowded into spikes at the tip of the stems. This wild mint flowers throughout the summer and the flowers are white and mauve. They are heavy feeders and water lovers. Mint grows in semi-shade and full sun. They do well in pots where they are contained. It is mostly the leaves that are used, usually to make a tea that is drunk for coughs, cystitis, colds, stomach cramps, asthma, flatulence, indigestion and headaches. Wild mint leaves have been used topically to treat wounds and swollen glands. Some farmers make a bath of mint "tea" to wash their dogs to rid them of fleas. It can be used in the kitchen as a substitute for the exotic mints. I make a glass jug of cold mint tea which is refreshing on hot summer days. It is the larval host plant of the Bush Bronze and the Tsomo Blue butterflies.Mentha is the Latin name for mint from the nymph Minthie, mistress of Pluto, daughter of Cocytus, who was turned into mint by the jealous Proserpine.

Noltea africana

(Soap Dogwood)

This small evergreen tree is frost resistant and fast growing in the sun. The white flowers are produced in summer. It attracts birds and is used for nesting sites. It also attracts butterflies. It has been 'adopted' by the landscaping trade, perhaps for its versatility. It makes a great screen, -windbreak or informal hedge. The plant always has an occasional red leaf right throughout the year. The glossy green leaves are a treat in our dry, brown winters in Gauteng. Its common name comes from the fact that a soapy lather is made from the leaves. It is also used medicinally to treat Black Quarter in cattle. Named for Ernst Ferdinand Nolte (1791-1875), a German botanist and physician , professor of botany and director of botanical art at Kiel. He studied medicine in Germany and at Moscow.

Nuxia floribunda

(Forest Elder)

This small to medium-sized evergreen tree is usually 3 m to 10 m tall. The main stem is often somewhat contorted and up to 600 mm in diameter. The fissured bark is rough and flaking and is grey to brown in colour. A lovely dense and rounded crown is often evident, contributing greatly to the visual appeal of the species. The leaves are browsed by kudu, bushbuck, nyala, klipspringer and duiker. The sweetly scented, cream-white flowers are small and they attract insects which attract the insect eating birds. They are rich in nectar which makes them idea for honey farmers. It flowers from autumn to spring. It is an attractive, moisture-loving tree that is frost sensitive. It likes a sunny to partly-shady position in the garden. Its root system is not aggressive or invasive, allowing for planting in close proximity, 3 meters, to roads, buildings and paving. It attracts birds and butterflies. The wood is hard and is used for furniture. Named for Jean Baptiste Francois de la Nux. (1702-1772) a French amateur naturalist. He became chief clerk and later the commander of Saint - Denis, the administrative of Reunion Island where he tried to develop silkworm farming. Floribunda means 'with an abundance of flowers'.

Pentas lanceolata

(Egyptian Starcluster)

Pentas lanceolata is an excellent small shrub for a colourful garden. It grows to around 1m in height, with summer and autumn flowers like neat round bouquets of tiny stars, in colours of red, white, lavender, purple, cerise and various shades of pink. It is one of the best butterflies attracting plants. It blooms all summer long, even during the hottest weather. It seems happiest in semi shade. Lanceolata refers to the lance shaped leaves.

Plectranthus aliciae (was P.madagascariensis)

(Variegated Plectranthus)

Evergreen groundcover with plain green or green-and-white variegated foliage and spikes of small whitish flowers in summer. It is a very fast growing groundcover that grows about 15cm x 45cm and it spreads by means of runners which root as they touch the ground. It thrives when planted in semi-shade and it requires moderate water and is considered drought resistant. Plant this lovely groundcover under large trees to make an effective and attractive groundcover. It is also an ideal plant for indoors and it makes a lovely hanging basket for a patio. Root decoctions are used as a traditional medicine for cold and flu and the leaves are crushed and used as a deodorant and to treat scabies. This is the larval host plant for Bush Bronze, Mocker Blue, Eyed Pansy, Garden Inspectorthe 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.

Plectranthus ciliatus

(Speckled Spurflower)

An evergreen groundcover which is drought resistant and fast growing in the shade or semi-shade. It has very pretty white flowers with purplish dots which open in late summer. They attract birds. It is useful for containers and ideal for small gardens. It is used to wash sheepskin garments. The roots are used medicinally as they are anti-bacterial and is considered a protection plant. This is the larval host plant for Bush Bronze, Mocker Blue, Eyed Pansy, Garden Inspector, 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.

Plectranthus ecklonii

(Large Spurflower Bush)

Evergreen shrub which is drought resistant and fast growing. It thrives in the shade or semi-shade. There are white, mauve or pink flowering plants that produce masses of flowers in autumn. They attract birds, the insect eaters. This is the larval host plant for Bush Bronze, Mocker Blue, Eyed Pansy, the March Commodor and the African Leaf Commodor butterflies. It’s great for containers or mass planted at the back of a bed. It is used in traditional medicine. It is ideal for a townhouse garden. The name is derived from the Greek plektron = a spur; anthos= a flower. These plants have conspicuously spurred flowers.

Plectranthus oertendali

(Silver-Leaved Spurflower)

Evergreen groundcover that grows to about 20cm and is fast growing when planted in a shade or semi-shade area. White flowers open in summer. It is ideal for a hanging baskets or a container on a patio. This species seems to require more water than the others and is also frost tender so it is not suitable for Highveld gardens. In fact we have stopped propagating it. 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.

Plectranthus verticillatus

(Gossip or Money Plant)

This evergreen groundcover is water wise and fast growing in semi-shade or deep shade. The white flowers open in summer. They attract birds. This is the larval host plant for Bush Bronze, Mocker Blue, Eyed Pansy, the March Commodor and the African Leaf Commodor butterflies. They look lovely in containers as they tend to scamper over the edge. Do mass plant in moist shade for a stunning, lush effect. It’s ideal for small gardens. The name is derived from the Greek plektron = a spur; anthos= a flower. These plants have conspicuously spurred flowers.

Plumbago auriculata alba

(Plumbago)

This medium size evergreen shrub has a tendency to scramble. It has small delicate, pale green leaves and produces masses of white phlox-like flowers throughout summer. This fast growing, fairly drought resistant shrub may also be planted against a fence to form a screen or in an informal border where it can be kept neatly pruned. This attractive plant does particularly well in frost free areas but if damaged by frost it will recover rapidly in spring. The roots are used as traditional remedies to relieve headaches, treat fractures, wounds and remove warts. It is also said to confuse enemies, ward off evil and prevent lightning.It is an ideal plant for containers. Butterflies and sunbirds are constant visitors.

Selago corymbosa

(Bitterblombos)

A perennial shrub grows to 60cm tall. The leaves are light green, narrowly linear with their edges rolled under. The leaves are clustered in the stem axils. The flowers are small and white on short spikes. The flowering time is December to June. It is a fast growing and it thrives in sun or semi-shade. Plant in mixed border and cut it back after flowering to keep looking neat. It is the larval host plant to the Ketsi Blue, Victors Blue and Variable Blue butterflies. The name is derived from the Latin sel=sight and Jach=beneficial which refers to the medicinal properties especially for eye diseases.

Senegalia ataxacantha (Acacia ataxacantha)

(Flame Thorn)

A small, deciduous tree which is frost resistant, water wise and fast growing in the sun. In summer it is covered in white, spike flowers which attracts insect eating birds and is often used for nesting sites. It makes a great thorny, security barrier. There are scattered hook thorns . The beautiful red pods give rise to the common name of Flame Thorn. The wood is flexible when split into strips and these are used to weave baskets. It is the larval host plant for butterflies like the Black-striped Hairtail, the Satyr Emperor and the Club-tailed Emperor.

Senegalia caffra ( Acacia caffra)

(Common Hook Thorn)

This fast growing, deciduous tree that grows to a medium height of 9m x 9m. It grows in numerous areas including the Highveld. Often seen on quartzite koppies as it tolerates low ph soil. It is very attractive with its pale green, soft and feathery drooping foliage. The fluffy, creamy yellow flower spikes are very pretty and fragrant and are visible in spring. They are followed by straight flat brown pods. It has brown, paired hook thorns which are not easily shed. The edible flowers attract monkeys, birds and insects. It is considered to be a good fodder tree and is also eaten by livestock, Black Rhino, giraffe, kudu, impala, reedbuck and grey duiker. Plant it in full sun with moderate water. It is also good for bonsai. It has a rather aggressive root system so don't plant it closer than 3 meters from a building or pool. The long flexible branches are used for basket making and it also used for tobacco pipes. The wood is hard and termite proof so it is used for fencing posts and furniture. It is also used for fuel as it produces long lasting coal. It is traditionally used as a protection charm by hammering branches into the ground. The bark, leaves and roots have medicinal and magical properties. The leaves are eaten for abdominal disorders and the roots are used as a love charm emetic. The bark is used for blood cleansing and it is also used as a light brown dye.The wood is hard and is used for fence poles and fuel. It tolerates fire and is frost and drought resistant. This is the larval host plant for the Pennington's Playboy and the Van Son's Playboy.

Setaria megaphylla

(Broad-Leaved Bristle Grass)

This evergreen groundcover grows about 1m tall in the wetlands, sun or semi shade. It is frost resistant, fast growing, and bears white flowers in summer. It makes a very attractive back drop to a wetland garden as the leaves are a pretty green and interestingly 'pleated.' Birds strip the leaves for nest building and the seed eaters enjoy the fruits. The leaves are palatable and are browsed by game. It is the larval host plant to the Long-horned Skipper, Lesser-horned Skipper, Twilight Brown and Gold-spotted Skipper butterflies. Strangely, it is also eaten by dogs. It is used traditionally to treat bruises. The name is derived from the Latin seta=a bristle and aria = pertaining to: referring to the bristly awns in the involucrum. A leaf-like structure occuring just below the flower.

Stachys aethiopica

(Wild Sage)

This is an evergreen groundcover. It has opposite, ovate, toothed leaves with glandular hairs. Whorls of mauve, white or pink flowers are produced in August and September and some suggest all year round except in midwinter. The scent exuded by this plant is similar to cat urine. The plant straggles in Fynbos, grassland, scrub or forest to a height of 50 cm along the southern and eastern coasts of South Africa and into tropical Africa. It is used for the treatment of internal hemorrhoids, influenza, gynecological problems and liver disorders. It also attract birds, bees and butterflies. The name is derived from the Greek for spike, originally an ear of wheat, and it refers to the flower spike.

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