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Hesperantha coccinea (was Schizostylis coccinea)

(Scarlet River Lily)

This deciduous groundcover of 50cm x 20cm loves moist conditions and it looks stunning next to a water features or pond.The beautiful, attractive star shaped scarlet flowers of bright red, pink or white open in summer and attract buterflies. It is frost hardy and it also require lots of water as it likes to be in a wetland area. It is also good for containers. I once saw these in full flower in the marshy area on the bank of a river in Wakkerstroom, which proves how frost hardy they are.

Heteromorpha trifoliata

(Parsley Tree)

This small (3-7 m) deciduous tree is frost resistant and grows in the sun. In summer the yellow/green flowers attract insect eating birds. The trees are also used for nesting sites and they attract butterflies. The bark is very beautiful as it’s a shiny copper colour which splits and curls back on itself. The new bark looks like satin. There are two splendid examples on the main path at Walter Sisulu Botanical Garden. The crushed leaves smell like parsley hence the common name. They are variable in both size, shape and colour as they vary from light green to grey. The flowers are small and form a powder puff shape. They attract insects and butterflies. The winged fruit are creamy brown and appear in April. The leaves are browsed by game and Black Rhino. Roots and leaves are used in traditional medicine for a multitude of ailments. The leaves are used in an enema for abdominal, mental and nervous disorders as well as intestinal worms in children. The bark is used as a vermifuge for horses. The smoke of the bark is inhaled for headaches. It is also a protective charm against lightening and increases the power of the chief. The roots are used for shortness of breath, coughs, colic, blood, stomach and kidney purifier as well as weakness in men. The volatile oils indicate that is is anti baxcterial and anti fungal. It is also used as a sprinkling charm.

Heteropyxis natalensis

(Lavender Tree)

This small, evergreen tree is water wise and is happy in the sun or semi shade. In summer the white/creamy flowers attract bees, wasps, butterflies and insects which attract the insect eating birds. It is also a useful tree for nesting. This tree is suitable for containers and bonsai as it has non aggressive roots. Plant it 3 meters from a building or a pool. It is used medicinally as an antibacterial and the bark is considered to be an aphrodisiac.The leaves and roots of this plant are used medicinally to treat worms in stock and tick infestions, for toothache, mouth and gum infections. African healers prescribe inhaling the steam from a decoction of the roots to heal a bleeding nose and clear a blocked nose. The roots are also used in the treatment of mental disorders and fresh leaves are used during weaning, to make a herbal tea and for potpourri . A tea is made from the leaves and used to treat heartburn, colic, colds and flatulence. This tea is said to be strengthening and is given to the elderly, travellers and new mothers. The leaves are also used to scent tobacco as they smell like lavender as well as being browsed by antelope. Leaves and twigs are boiled in water to make a fragrant wash. Crushed leaves are added to mutton fat which then treats cracked heels and tired feet. The leaves are put into the bath for a fragrant and invigorating bath and are used in Potpourri. The bark and the leaves are eaten by black rhino. It is a very decorative tree for small gardens. With its glossy green leaves and a whitish stem, it makes a very good focal point. Plant this tree in a prominent spot where you can enjoy its lovely autumn foliage. The small fruit ripens in autumn and winter. The name is derived from the Greek heteros = different : pyxis = a jar with a lid , referring to the fruit capsule which looks like it has a lid on it.

Hibiscus calyphyllus

(Sun Hibiscus)

This perennial shrub grows up to 1,5m and is evergreen, frost hardy and fast growing. It produces attractive, bright, sunny, yellow flowers with deep-red to blackish centres. This decorative, nicely rounded, soft, bushy shrub has large velvet or hairy leaves. The flowers close early in the afternoon and do not re-open. The flowering time is in summer and its flowers for a reasonable length of time. They lure insect pollinators which in turn attract birds. During a famine the flowers are cooked as a pot verb. The root is used to treat small children who have a bloated stomach. Hawk moths, Snow white moth, Spiny bollworm moth and the Orange cotton moth all lay their eggs on this plant. The mystical idea is that it's a love potion so dried petals are put into love incense and it is used in wedding ceremonies. The name is derived from the Greek hibiskos the name for a 'marsh-mallow' and ibis= a stork that fed on some mallow species.

Hibiscus penduncularis

(Pink Hibiscus)

Evergreen, water wise shrub that grows about 1m x 1m. It thrives in semi-shade and produces lovely pink, bell shaped flowers in Summer. It is an ideal plant for a container on a shady patio. It will grow in the sun but will then require more water. It also attracts birds and the Foxy Charaxes, Foxt Emperor and Star Sandman butterflies. Leaf and stalk infusions are used for urinary complaints. The mystical idea is that it's a love potion so dried petals are put into love incense and it is used in wedding ceremonies.The name is derived from the Greek hibiskos the name for a 'marsh-mallow' and ibis= a stork that fed on some mallow species.

Hypericum revolutum

(Curry Bush)

This multi-stemmed shrub or small tree is fast-growing, evergreen and grows to 3 m high and spreads about the same width. The stems have reddish brown, scaly bark and drooping branches. The evergreen plant's leaves release a curry-like smell when crushed and after rain. The fresh, green foliage and bright yellow flowers are reasons to have this delightful plant in your garden. Flowers are single and bright yellow, up to 50 mm in diameter. Flowering time is in summer and autumn. The fruit are reddish brown capsules enclosing the seeds. The wood of this plant is used as timber and for building material in some African countries. Medicinally, it is used to treat stomach ache and the leaves are cooked and strained to heal sores and VD, backache from kidney infections. It is said to be ‘nature's firebreak’, as it does not burn well and therefore protects forests. It can be planted in the full sun to semi shade, in well-drained soil and needs to be watered regularly. It would do well along a stream or near a water feature. A regular light pruning will to keep it neat. It can be used in containers, for mass planting as an informal hedge and as a pioneer plant. It deserves a place in any fragrant garden and it attract birds and bees. The name is derived from the Greek hyper=above, eikon= a figure, icon, image. From the ancient practice of placing flowers above an image to ward off evil spirits.

Hypoxis hemerocallidea

(Star Flower)

This deciduous bulb is frost resistant, water wise and grows in full sun in our grasslands. The yellow flowers open in Spring-Summer and they attract butterflies and bees. This popular medicinal plant is used for many ailments but is threatened by harvesting. The tuberous rootstock is traditionally used. Weak infusions and decoctions of the corm are used as a strengthening tonic and during convalescence, against tuberculosis and cancer. It is also used for prostate hypertrophy, urinary tract infections, testicular tumors, as a laxative, childbirth and to expel intestinal worms. Anxiety, palpitations, depression and rheumatoid arthritis are further ailments treated with the plant. The leaves are used to make rope. The leaves and tuber are used as a dye and give a black colour, which is used to blacken floors. The star flower is a very attractive, hardy garden plant. It is drought-tolerant, frost-resistant, very easy to grow and an asset to any garden. It grows well in full sun in well-drained soil. Hypoxis hemerocallidea flowers freely throughout summer. The yellow star-like flowers are eye-catching in any setting. It is excellent for a rockery or as a border to flower beds, but is also suitable for container planting. When not in flower, the leaves are attractive and striking with their geometric triangular arrangement. The bulbs are dormant in winter and need to be kept dry. The leaves die down after the summer, but appear in later winter, often before the summer rains. The name is derived from the Greek hypo = beneath, less than; oxys- sharp pointed, sour referring to the leaves which are acid.

Ilex mitis

(Cape Holly)

This is a medium sized evergreen tree with a straight trunk, attractive bark and a rounded canopy which is fast growing in the sun and frost hardy. Do protect young trees for the first few years. The twigs and leaf stalks are reddish in colour. Sweetly scented, white flowers occur in spring or early summer. They are followed by fruit which ripen on the female trees in autumn, turning bright red, are densely packed along the stems. They provide bright splashes of colour, attracting many kinds of birds, like louries, doves, pigeons, bulbuls, starlings and barbets. It is a useful tree which attracts butterflies and can be used near wetlands. It is also medicinal as the bark is chewed as a purgative. Elephants eat the leaves. The leaves create a lather when rubbed together. The wood was used to make wagons, furniture, fuel and the heels of ladies high heeled shoes. Roots are non aggressive so plant it 3 meters from a building or a pool.

Impatiens hochstetteri

(Mauve Impatiens)

A fast growing water loving groundcover. It grows about 30 cm tall and 40 cm wide. It has soft oval rounded petals. The flowers open in summer. Plant this lovely groundcover in dappled shade, particularly near a pond or stream as it loves moist conditions. It requires a protected position in frosty gardens. A leaf and stem infusion is also used as a tradition medicine for dealing with eczema. The name is derived from the Latin impatiens = referring to the bursting of the seed pod and forceful scattering of the seeds.

Impatiens sylvicola

(Salmon Impatiens)

A low scrambling annual or short-lived perennial which roots at the lower nodes. The leaves are spirally arranged, more or less broadly ovate-lanceolate, 2-10 cm long, and the margin is scalloped or toothed. Flowers are solitary or in few-flowered clusters, pink or mauve with a deep mauve to red spot near the base of the upper lateral petals. The flowers open in summer. It is a lovely groundcover for a wet land areas in the garden or plant it near pond in dappled shade. Frost tender. The name is derived from the Latin impatiens = referring to the bursting of the seed pod and forceful scattering of the seeds.

Imperata cylindrica

(Cottonwool Grass)

A water loving creeping grass that spreads with long rhizomes and can form dense stands. Cottonwool grass grows in a poorly drained damp soil such as vleis and riverbanks. White flowers open from August to June. It is hardy to frost, fast growing and should be planted in the sun or semi-shade. This is an ideal grass for wetlands. It also protects the soil from soil erosion. It is also a useful grass as it is used for thatching, making paper and fuel. The seed also attracts birds. Named after Ferrante Imperato ( 1550-1625) an Italian scholar of many subjects. He also formed a museum and studies how fossils were formed.

Indigofera jucunda ( frutescens and cylindrica)

(River Indigo)

This tree was originally called Indigofera frutescens. It is a small evergreen tree which is frost resistant and will thrive in the sun or semi-shade. The delicate pink flowers open in summer which makes a stunning sight. Eve Palmer describes them as "pretty things all lightness and grace". They are pollinated by bees. It is useful for containers and is a popular garden tree. It can be cut back to make a multi stemmed shrub or left as a single stemmed tree. It produces strong wood and is used magically as the roots are used as a love charm. They are also used medicinally as a worm remedy. It is the larval host to the Common Blue, Lucerne Blue, Grass Jewel Blue, Grizzled Blue. Karkloof Blue, Restless Blue,Clover Blue Striped Policeman and the African Clouded Yellow butterflies. The leaves are used to make dye. This is a popular bonsai subject. The name is derived from the Katin indicus, Greek indikos referrijng to India. The Latin ferax = bearing. Indigo is blue dye.

Isolepsis cernua

(Fiber optic grass)

This little sedge gets it's name from the fact that the tiny white flowers look like little fiber optic lamps. It grows to about 30 cm wide an will thrive in either the sun or the shade but it must be kept moist. it can even be planted in water. It is perfect for a water feature where it will be splashed or even in a pond. The 'moplike' tufts are upright when the plant is young and they become longer with age. They can be given a 'haircut' if necessary. The name is derived from the Greek isos - equal; lepsis = scale; referring to the glumes of the flower.

Jasminum angulare

(Wild Jasmine)

A slow growing, evergreen scrambling shrub or vine that grows to 7m high. It produces masses of white, scented, star-shaped flowers in summer and it attracts a variety of birds. Plant in full sun to light shade and water regularly. It is a bit tender and does best in frost-free gardens but can handle a few degrees below freezing without damage. Useful as a climber or espalier and the flowers are used in arrangements. The fresh leaves poison sheep and cattle. It is a larval host to the Cambridge Blue butterfly and 6 species of moths. Mystically the dried flowers are used in love sachets, to attract wealth and encourage prophetic dreams. Fresh flowers are smelled to induce sleep. The name is derived from the Persian yasmin = a fragrant shrub.

Juncus effusus

(Common Rush)

Juncus effusus is a clump forming wetland plant that is a striking vertical addition to any garden or container planting. It grows to 70cm high and 30cm wide. Upright, fanning, deep green, rounded stems make a great accent in container or water gardens. It can be planted at the edge of that is about 20 cm deep. Inconspicuous golden flowers appear on top of the stems in summer. It provides food and shelter for birds and other wildlife and it is also used to make traditional sitting mats. It thrives when planted in sun and is an ideal plant for a wet land garden or around a water feature. They attract birds and butterflies. The name is derived from the Latin jungere=to tie together, bind; referring to the ancient practice of using rushes to bind into ropes.

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