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Aloe ferox

(Bitter Aloe)

This evergreen aloe is happy in the sun. It occurs from the Cape, Kwazulu Natal, Free State and Lesotho. It was first utilised and painted on rocks by the Khoi. The beautiful orange-red flowers occur in winter and attract birds and butterflies and children who suck the nectar which is said to be narcotic. It is single-stemmed, grows to 3 meters and is quite dramatic in flower. This Aloe was first introduced to Europe in 1700. It is medicinal and the healing sap is exported for the medicine trade. The dried sap has been exported since 1760 It is used as a laxative and to treat arthritis, rheumatism, hypertension and stress. It is also used in hair and skin cream products. It is often used as a skin lightening gel. It is rich in amino acids and minerals. Don't use this medicine during pregnancy. The leaf sap is used to treat burns. The chopped leaves and a bucket of wild rosemary and khaki bos are left over night to steep in boiling water and this water is used to bath dogs as a tick repellent. The leaves are browsed while the flowers are enjoyed by monkeys and baboon. They are also made into a delicious jam which is similar to watermelon jam. It is used in a rockery but is very slow growing. The word Aloe comes from the Greek and refers to the bitter leaf gel.

Aloe marlothii

(Mountain Aloe)

This large, evergreen aloe is usually single stemmed and can grow to 7m. It is frost resistant, drought resistant, and is happy in the full sun or semi shade. The orange flowers are seen in winter and have a distinctive horizontal/slanted shape. Children suck the sweet nectar from the flowers which attract birds and butterflies. Flowers are also enjoyed by monkeys and baboon. The leaves are also browsed by game.It is used medicinally as the leaves and roots are used for roundworm and the dried leaves are ground for snuff. 1 cup of chopped leaves in boiled in 4 cups of water for 10 minutes. It then cools and is strained and fed to horses in a bottle to treat horse sickness. The sap is also used for stomach ailments and for increasing milk for lactation. Roots produce dye. This is an architectural plant that will be a focal point in a garden. The word Aloe comes from the Greek and refers to the bitter leaf gel. Named for Hermann Wilhelm Rudolph Marloth ( 1855-1931) a German born botanist, pharmacist, explorer and plant collector. He studied pharmacy and chemistry at the universities of Berlin and Rostocka. He worked as a professor of chemistry at the now Stellenbosch University and he botanised widely in Namibia. He wrote many papers on botany and his major work was a six volume Flora of South Africa (1913-1932) He was Chairman of the Mountain Club (1901-1906)

Diospyros whyteana

(Bladder-Nut)

This small evergreen tree is water wise and prefers a semi-shade position. The white/yellow flowers open in winter and they attract birds and butterflies. It is useful for a formal pruned hedge or informal hedging/screening. It does well in a container or as a bonsai. Browsed by stock and kudu, nyala, klipspringer and greysbok. The fruit is beautidul and distinctive as it fades from green to reddish brown. The seeds are roasted and used as a substitute for coffee. The leaves and roots are used medicinally to treat a rash. The wood is hard and is used for furniture. This is my personal choice for a small garden as it has lovely autumn foliage, glossy green leaves, non aggressive roots and a neat growth habit. You can plant it 2 meters from a building or a pool. It is the larval host for butterflies.

Erythrina lysistemon

(Common Coral Tree)

Occurs on the Witwatersrand, Swaziland, Transkei and Natal. It is a lovely, small to medium-sized, deciduous tree with a spreading crown and brilliant red flowers in winter-spring. It is a handsome tree at any time of the year, and its dazzling flowers have made it one of the best known and widely grown South African trees. The red flowers are show stoppers and are loved by nectar feeding birds and bees and butterflies. It is the larval host plant for the Giant Emperor and the Protea Emperor butterflies and 11 moth species. Monkeys eat the flower buds. The roots are aggressive therefore plant it 6 meters from buildings, pools and roads. Plant it in full sun and be aware that it is frost sensitive when young so do protect them from frost. This tree is antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and analgesic. The bark is medicinal for toothache, to treat wounds, arthritis, earache and strips of the bark are used to tie bundles of herbs. Chiefs use the bark mixed with the root of the Cussonia as a purifying emetic. A branch is planted on the deceased's grave as this is said to protect the person in the afterlife. There are trials underway as the seed is said to be a painkiller. The leaves are used to ease the healing of sores, or boiled in water to make ear drops. The fresh leaves are also placed in the shoes to treat tired feet and cracked heels. The leaves are browsed by Black Rhino, Elephant, Kudu, Nyala, and Klipspringer, so it's great for a game farm. The seeds are eaten by Cape Parrots and Brown-headed Parrots. The wood is prone to wood-borer so the woodpeckers enjoy them.The roots are eaten by bushpigs and porcupines. The Lucky Bean seeds are put into wallets to bring luck. Branches can be cut and planted as living fence poles. Drought resistant. This is a popular bonsai subject. We planted one next to a Dombeya rotudifolia and as they flower simultaneously in early spring, it is a joy to behold! The name is derived from Greek erythros=red, referring to the red flowers. The seed pods are black and burst open to disperse the red seeds. The seeds are considered to be toxic but no deaths are recorded. The leaves are sometimes covered in bumps which are caused by psyllids which are insects that that live under the bumps. They cause no damage to the tree. They lose their leaves in winter and the new leaves in spring are enjoyed by many worms and caterpillars. Woodpeckers search the bark for wood boring insects.

Grewia robusta

(Karoo Cross-Berry)

This is a deciduous, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree up to 3 m high. The flowers are small, bright pink and sweetly scented. They are solitary, up to 25 mm in diameter with stamens in a central mass.The flowering time is August–December. The fruits are round and reddish brown. It grows best in moist clay or light sand, in semi-shade and open areas. Best results are achieved by feeding the plant with organic fertilizer before flowering. It is frost and drought tolerant. It produces masses of sweetly scented and attractive pink flowers in summer. This Grewia is an excellent focal garden plant. It attract mammals and is suitable for a game farm. Named after Nehemiah Grew (1641-1712) a British physian, physiologist and botanist known as 'the father of plant physiology'. He graduate from Cambridge university in 1661 and then studied medicine at Leyden University in 1671. He published many works including The anatomy of Plants in 1682 and was a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Hippobromus pauciflorus

(False Horsewood, Basterperdepis)

This fast growing tree grows in forest and along streams, so it likes moist conditions. It is semi deciduous. The white flowers are small and grow in velvety heads which open in autumn. The leaves have a very unpleasant odour resembling horse urine, when crushed, hence the afrikaans common name. The new leaves are reddish in colour. The larvae of the Swallowtail feed on the leaves. It is used medicinally as the crushed leaves are used to treat a headache and the roots are used for dysentery, eye problems and diarrhea. It is also used as a love charm. The wood is used to build huts.

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