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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.

Merwillia plumbea (was Scilla natalensis)

(Blue Squill)

This very fast growing, graceful bulb grows to 50cm x 20cm. It is deciduous, growing during summer and dormant in the winter and should be kept dry during that period. This is an easy plant in cultivation and is ideally suited to the rockery but will do equally well in a container. It can also be used to good effect planted in clumps or drifts in the mixed border. It is lovely used in an indigenous meadow, planted amongst indigenous grasses. Each individual flower is not long-lasting, but there are so many of them opening in succession that the inflorescence will last for up to a month in the garden, and it is a useful cut flower. It requires a sunny or semi-shaded position. The lovely rocket shaped spikes of misty-blue flowers open in summer and are displayed on long stalks. It is traditionally used to heal internal tumours, boils and sores. The bulbs are hung and take 5 months to dry. The powered bulb is used to treat fractures and sprains. The cooked bulb is eaten as a laxative. It is analgesic and anti microbial. It is also used as an emetic to rejuvenate the body and promote fertility in women.It attracts butterflies. Named for Frederick Ziervogel van der Merwe ( 1894-1968), a South African botanist and medical doctor. His medical degrees were achieved at Trinity College in Dublin, Liverpool University and Wits. As a medical inspector he travelled widely and he had an interest in botany, particularly the Aloe and Scilla families. His other interest was collecting sheet music of Africana value. He also wrote the first Afrikaans dictionary of medical terms. The name is derived from the Greek skilla=squill or sea leek and the Greek skyllo=injure which refers to the poisonous bulb. This is a protected plant in South Africa.

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.

Pappea capensis

(Jacket-Plum)

This long-lived, hardy, semi deciduous, small to medium sized tree grows to a height of 2-8 m with a spreading, rounded crown.It is found in savanna grassland or rocky outcrops everywhere in SA except the Western Cape. Under ideal conditions it can grow at a moderate rate but can be slow-growing under dry and/or cold conditions. The leaves are simple and oblong, hard-textured and wavy. The leaf margin may vary from sharply toothed (especially in young growth) to almost smooth in mature growth. The new leaves in Spring are pinkish bronze. The greenish, scented flowers are borne on catkins in the axils of the leaves in summer, followed by round, green, velvety fruits which split open to reveal bright red flesh with a dark brown to black seed imbedded within. The edible fruit is eaten by people, various birds and animals, like monkeys, which in turn distribute the seeds in their droppings. The leaves are browsed by game such as elephant, giraffe, kudu, nyala, bushbuck, and grey duiker as well as domestic stock animals. The sweetly scented flowers attract a wide variety of insects which in turn attract many birds. The seed is parasitized by a small, bright red bug (Leptocoris hexophtalma) which sucks the oil from the seed on the ground below the tree. Oil is extracted from the seed and is used medicinally against baldness, ringworm, nosebleeds, chest complaints, eye infections, and venereal disease. It is also used to oil guns and to make soap. The fruit is used to make a preserve. Bark is also used as a protective charm. The wood is hard and is used for sticks. Plant it 5 meters from a building or a pool. It has non-aggressive roots and is suitable as a street tree or in a parking lot. It is the host plant to the Common Hairtail, Gold-banded Forester and the Pearl-spotted Charaxes butterflies. Lovely in a wildlife garden. Named for Carl Wilhelm Ludwig Pappe (1803-1862) German physician, economic botanist and plant collector. He studied medicine and botany at Leipzig before moving to Cape Town in 1831 where he practised as a doctor before moving to UCT as a Professor of botany.

Rhoicissus tridentata

(Bushman's Grape)

A strong, branched climber with decorative, serrated, grass green leaves can be trained into a large shrub. The yellow/green flowers open in summer and attract sunbirds. They are followed by fleshy, red back fruits which are loved by birds and people. These are used medicinally in childbirth, for fertility, colds, stomach, kidney and bladder aliments. It is made into jam, jelly and vinegar It is ideal for pergolas or as a groundcover for large shady areas, a worthy indoor foliage pot plant if kept in trim. Water it regularly. It attracts birds and butterflies and is browsed by game and black rhino. The tubers are eaten by bushpigs, porcupine and baboon although they are said to be poisonous. The name is derived fro the Greek rhoia, = pomegranate; kissos=ivy. Most plants in this genus climb and have tendrils, but the reference to pomegranate is obscure.

Scadoxus multiflorus subsp. katharinae

(Katherine Wheel)

This is one of our most beautiful bulbs. The word ‘mutiflorus’ refers to the large flower which is 25 cm in diameter and is made up of numerous smaller flowers to form a ball. They are pinklish, orangy red and last for about 2 weeks. The seed is red when ripe so just as attractive. It likes moist shade and occurs from the Eastern Cape all the way up into Central Africa. I shall never forget the first time I saw it in flower at Ngorogoro Crater in Tanzania. It literally stops you in your tracks. Although it is poisonous it is also used medicinally and to make love charms. Named from the Greek scias= that which you know and the Greek doxus = glorious splendid referring to the magnificent, bright orange red flowers. A glorious umbrel.

Searsia pyroides (Rhus pyroides)

(Fire Thorn)

This is a deciduous shrub or small to medium-sized, multistemmed tree, frequently with spines. The bark is rough and grey. The leaves are compound, composed of three leaflets (tri-foliate). The leaves are borne on slender stalks, which are furrowed above. The leaflets are oval, narrowing at both ends, sometimes with a short tip. They are smooth or velvety above, the lower surface is usually slightly hairy. The fruits ripen in summer to late autumn and in such quantities that the branches bend with the weight. The fruits are round and small, white and red when ripe. The wood is used to make hoe handles. The branches are used to build kraals. The roots are used in traditional medicine.The fruit is edible, with a pleasant, sweet-acidic taste. It is a hardy, frost-resistant plant and is well suited to Highveld gardens. It is the larval host for the Macken's Dart, Burnished Opal, Mooi River Opal, Namaqua Arrowhead and the Pringle's Arrowhead butterflies. The name is derived fro the Greek rhous, = red; referring to the fruits or the autumn leaves.Named for Paul Sears( 1891-1990) a US plant ecologist and professor who authored many books.

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. In India the wood is used to build temples and in ritual fires. The magical uses in South Africa are numerous. A sprig is placed over a bed to war off evil. It is used in money and love spells and the burned wood stimulates psychic powers. It is the larval host plant for butterflies like the Black-striped Hairtail, the Satyr Emperor and the Club-tailed Emperor.

Tulbaghia simmleri (Tulbaghia fragrans)

(Fragrant Wild Garlic)

This very pretty, fragrant mauve or white flower is on a 25 cm spike and opens in winter. It is cheerful to have one in your garden during the brown, dry Highveld winter. The leaves are wider than the Tulbaghia violacea and not as pungent. They are also edible and the flowers are successfully used in a vase. It grows best in the semi shade and is used medicinally for fevers, cold, asthma and TB. This family was named by Linnaeus after Ryk Tulbach who was Governor in the Cape from 1751-1771. He was born in Holland and worked for the Dutch East India Company. He moved to the Cape when he was 16 and started work. He collected bulbs, birds and plants. The town of Tulbagh is named after him. This particular Tulbaghia is named after Paul Simmler who was a successful Chief Gardener in Geneva.

Typha capensis

(Bulrush)

These plants are deciduous and grow to about 2 m tall. They are often seen on the verge of a dam, wetland or river where the roots filter the water. It is frost resistant, fast growing and has brownish flowers in summer. Birds use these as nesting sites and humans utilize it for many things eg the rhizomes are used for meal and the leaves are useful for brooms, weaving, mat and basket making and thatching. It is also medicinal as a root decoction is used in childbirth, for urinary tract problems and for the treatment of VD. The brown woolly flower is used to staunch bleeding and this is also done by the Chinese and the American Red Indians. Tea from the root is also used for diarrhoea, dysentry, and enteritis.The hollow stem is made into a flute. They are used in the kitchen as the new shoots are edible as are the thicker older roots which are ground and boiled and made into flat cakes. The Tswana pick the young flower stalks and fry them in fat. Some farmers feed their pigs and cattle the roots and stems in times of drought. The brown flower stalks are also used in flower arrangements. The name is derived from the Greek typhos=marsh; referring to the plants natural habitat.

Vachellia erubescens ( Acacia erubescens )

(Blue Thorn)

A small to medium-sized tree which is often multi-stemmed. The thorns are hooked, about 6 cm long, in pairs at the nodes. The leaves are not large, with a raised gland near the base. It flowers in axillary spikes, white in summer, before or with the new leaves. The pods are straight, more or less oblong and leathery. It is an useful for hedging/screening. It is a drought resistant and it should be planted in sun. Frost tender. In India the wood is used to build temples and in ritual fires. The magical uses in South Africa are numerous. A sprig is placed over a bed to war off evil. It is used in money and love spells and the burned wood stimulates psychic powers. Named for Rev George Harvey Vachel (1798-1839) a British priest and plant collector. He was chaplain to the British East India company in China where he collected plants.

Vachellia rehmanniana ( Acacia rehmanniana )

(Silky Thorn)

This deciduous, small, flat-crowned tree has young branches which are densely covered with golden, furry hairs. Later they become grey and peel off to expose a powdery, rusty-red bark. The spines are long and straight, white with a reddish-brown tip. The flowers are white balls, grouped at the ends of the young branches, seen in summer. The fruit is a straight, flat greyish-brown pod. In India the wood is used to build temples and in ritual fires. The magical uses in South Africa are numerous. A sprig is placed over a bed to war off evil. It is used in money and love spells and the burned wood stimulates psychic powers. It is both frost and drought resistant. An ideal plant for hedging/screening and it also attracts birds.It occurs naturally in Zimbabwe, Botswana and the Transvaal. Named for Matthew Augustine Joseph Rehnn (1779-1831) a German physician. Named for Rev George Harvey Vachel (1798-1839) a British priest and plant collector. He was chaplain to the British East India company in China where he collected plants.

Zantedeschia rehmanni

(Pink Arum)

This small arum only grows to 30 cm in rocky grassland. The leaves are lance shaped and the delicate flowers are white, pale pink, dark pink and purple. They open from September to February. It is one of the 4 species of Arums that grow in the rocky grasslands around Lydenberg, Mpumalanga. The rocks help to prevent the porcupines from eating the tubers. They are threatened as they have been exploited for the horticultural trade. The flowers are suitable for the vase. There is a large pale pink form that looks like a cross between the Z rehmanni and the Z aethiopica which is called Z 'Marshmallow'. It's very pretty and also does well as a cut flower. Named for Giovanni Zantedeschia (1773-1846) an Italian physician, pharmacist and botanist. He was particularly interested in the flora of Northern Italy where he discovered and described many new species.

Zanthoxylum capense

(Small Knobwood)

Occurs in the Transvaal, Swaziland and Natal. This small, mutistemmed tree grows to about 5 m in the sun or semi shade in the dry woodlands on rocky slopes. It’ s a protected tree in South Africa with glossy green leaves that have a strong citrus smell when crushed, the thorns are straight and brown and fade to grey on cone shaped protuberance when old. The flowers are white/green and are sweetly scented. They attract insects and insect eating birds. It is both drought and frost hardy. The citrus swallowtail larvae, White-banded Swallowtail, Green-banded Swallowtail and the Emperor Swallowtail feed off the leaves while the fruit is eaten by birds, monkeys and baboons. The leaves are browsed by kudu, klipspringer and grey duiker. The fruit is chewed for stomach aches, colic, flatulence, cramps and pain. Crushed leaves are made into a tea which is drunk for stomach upsets, diarrhoea, cramps and intestinal worms. The crushed leaves of Artemesia afra and the Knobwood were used during the 1918 Flu epidemic and made into a strong tea. It is used for colds, flu, coughs and a gargle.The bark is used for snake bite and gall-sickness in cattle and the twigs are used as toothbrushes. The crushed seeds are used as perfume. Pounded bark is made into a tea and drunk for blood conditions and also applied to skin eruptions, snake bite and toothache. The wood is yellow and is used for implements and walking sticks which are considered to be a protective charm. The leaves can be left in oil in a warm place for 4 days. This is used to massage tired feet. The pungent leaves can be added to pot-pourri or used with Artemesia leaves to make an insect-repellant pot-pourri. Itt is useful for containers as it has non aggressive roots.

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