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Diospyros lycioides var guerkei

(Transvaal Bluebush)

Found throughout the country, other than the Western Cape and the Karoo. It only grows to 3-5 meters so is great for a townhouse garden where space is limited. It has stunning autumn foliage and is deciduous. The flowers are visited by butterflies and insects so they attract the insect eating birds. Perhaps its best attribute is the little red fruit, which are produced in abundance. They are relished by fruit eating birds, Dassies, Bushbuck and humans. It is the larval food plant of the Mooi River Opal butterfly and 26 moth species.The roots produce brown dye and they are used medicinally as a purgative, for epilepsy, to dislodge thorns and for eye troubles. The roots are extremely hard and are known to blunt plough blades. We recently had an enquiry from Australia for the twigs which are used as toothpicks!The roots and twigs are antimicrobial. An excellent bonsai subject. The name is derived from the Greek dios = divine, pyros=a grain of sand referring to the fruit which is divine to eat and is used to make jam.

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.

Dodonaea angustifolia

(Sand Olive)

This small evergreen tree is frost resistant, water wise, and fast growing in the sun. It has yellow flowers in autumn which attract butterflies, nesting birds and insect eaters. This neat tree works very well as a formal pruned hedge or as an informal screen. It also has many medicinal uses as the bark is used to treat wounds and abdominal pain. Smoke from the burning roots is inhaled to treat headaches, bronchitis and colds. Roots, leaves and twigs are soaked in water and this water is then used to treat colds, flu, fever, stomach trouble, measles and arthritis. Roots boiled in water is used by women after child birth to stimulate breast milk. Leaves are pounded and steeped in water and then used for diarrhea. It has anti-fungal, antiviral and properties. Good for a container as it has non aggressive roots so it can be planted 2 meters from a building or a pool. The Sand Olive is ideal for small gardens and is used to stabilize sandy areas. It was named after Dr Rembert Dodonaeus 1517 - 1585. He studied medicine and was a Flemish Physician, herbalist, He also studied cosmography and geography. He was the emperor's physician and professor at Leiden University. He wrote the most comprehensive book on herbs which was the most translated book after the Bible.

Dovyalis caffra

(Kei Apple)

This small 5m evergreen tree is frost resistant, water wise, fast growing in the sun or semi-shade. The cream flowers are rich in nectar, which attracts butterflies, and are produced in spring and are followed by apricot fruit which attract birds - insect and fruit eaters like the Louries and black eyed Blackeyed Bulbuls. It should produce fruit when about 3 years old.It makes a safe nesting site. It is useful for an informal hedge/screen or a thorny security barrier as they retain their lower branches and can be planted close together as they do not have aggressive roots. The fruit is also useful as it is rich in vitamin C and although sour it is tasty and is eaten raw or used for jelly and jam making. It is eaten by Monkeys and Baboon. The trees are also browsed by game. The Kei Apple will do well in a container and is popular for bonsai. The branches are also used in flower arrangements.The oval leaves are shiny, dark green with a smooth margin. It is successful if planted in a coastal garden or in a Highveld garden. This tree was first grown in Europe in 1870 but is now grown worldwide, in California, the Mediterranean and Australia. Plant it 2 meters from buildings and pools. The name is derived from the Greek dovyalis = spear refering to the long thorns.

Dovyalis zeyheri

(Wild Apricot)

This a small to medium sized, evergreen tree grows from 2-13m. The stem can be single or multi-stemmed. The bark is a light grey-brown and it becomes rough and flaking on older trees. The flowers are small and greenish yellow. Male and female flowers are borne on separate trees from August to December. The fruits are found only on female trees. They are bright orange and oval in shape with a velvety texture. They reach up to 25 mm long and appear from November to May. The wild apricot is a good tree for wild fruit which tastes sour but refreshing and is eaten by people and animals. The fruit makes a good jelly but some sweetening is required. The thorns which provide protection for birds' nests, along with the fruit make this an excellent wildlife garden tree. The caterpillars of the African Leopard Butterfly feed on the leaves. In the garden, the wild apricot is tolerant of moderate frost, although young plants should be protected for the first two years. It is also drought resistant and grows well in either full sun or light shade. It grows well in sandy or loamy soil to which compost has been added. Because of its non aggressive roots system its an ideal plant for containers. A lovely shrub/tree for birds and butterflies.

Dracaena aletriformis

(Large-Leaved Dragon Tree, Grootblaardrakeboom)

This small evergreen tree will thrive in shade. It produces masses of orangy/yellow/white flowers in spring which are sweetly scented at night and attract nocturnal insects like the Hawk Moth which is the pollinator. They are followed by orange fruit which attract birds - insect eaters and fruit eaters like pigeons, louries and black-eyed bulbuls. It also attracts butterflies which feed on the leaves The Bush Nightfighter butterfly larvae wraps a part of the leaf over itself and comes out at night to feed on the leaves. Field mice and birds, like the Natal Robin nest in the leaves. It is a stunning, dramatic foliage plant which can be grown indoors if there is enough air flow or in a pot on a shady patio as it has non aggressive roots. It is frost tender so choose a protected spot close to the house where the building will provide protection. The name is derived from the Greek drakaina=a female dragon.

Duvernoia now called Justicia aconitifolia

(Lemon Pistol Bush)

This small evergreen tree is frost resistant and drought resistant. It prefers a shade or semi-shady spot. The lemon yellow flowers are small and occur in Autumn-Summer. This shrubby tree attracts nesting birds and butterflies. It is wonderful for hedging/screening. Named for Johan Georg Duvernoy (1692-1759) a German botanist and surgeon.

Duvernoia now called Justicia adhatodoides

(Pistol Bush)

A lovely, small evergreen tree which is water wise and thrives in the shade or semi-shade. The stunning white flowers are streaked with purple and look like an orchid at first glance. They occur in abundance in autumn-summer and are long lasting. It is useful for a pruned hedge or an informal hedge/screen. The seed pods crack open noisily Named for Johan Georg Duvernoy (1692-1759) a German botanist and surgeon.and the seed is dispersed and that gives rise to the common name. The flowers are pollinated by carpenter bees and the wood is hard.

Dyschoriste sp nova

This evergreen shrub that grows to 30cm high and is frost resistant. Plant it in the sun or semi-shade. It produces pale pinky white flowers almost all year. An ideal plant for containers. Beautiful in flower and if mass planted. I've seen is used as a low hedge around a garden bed.It is the larval host plant for the Marbled Elf, Small Marbled Elf and the Gaika Blue butterflies. The name is derived from the Greek dys=poorly and khoristos= separated. The stigma is only weakly bilobed.

Dyschoriste thunbergiiflora

(Purple Bells)

Purple Bells is an evergreen shrub which is fast growing in the sun or semi-shade. It grows to about 1.7m tall and has a spread of 1.5 meters. The beautiful violet flowers occur in summer and whenever I see them I wish that I could paint them accurately. The flowers are trumpet shaped and have purple blotches in the throat. They attract butterflies and it is the larval host plant for the Marbled Elf, Small Marbled Elf and the Gaika Blue butterflies. It would be pretty in a container or planted next to a water feature or pond. They are drought tolerant. We have used it successfully as a screen, a very beautiful one when it is in flower. Keep cutting the top few leaves and this will force the plant to send out new branches. I've seen it hedged and it responds well to pruning. It looks lovely at the back of a mixed bed and is pretty planted in the shade along with the Pistol Bush Duvernoia adhatodoides and the Forest Bell Bush Mackaya bella which has now been renamed Asystasia bella. The name is derived from the Greek dys=poorly and khoristos= separated. The stigma is only weakly bilobed.

Ehretia rigida

(Puzzle Bush)

This deciduous tree/shrub is frost resistant, drought resistant and fast growing in the sun or semi-shade. It is usually multi-stemmed with tangled branches which give rise to its common name. It produces masses of fragrant, lilac flowers in spring. They attract bees, flies, beetles, wasps and butterflies. These are followed by edible orange berries which ripen to black and they attract birds – insect and fruit eaters like Crested francolin, Guinea fowl, Hornbill, Barbets, Bulbuls and Starlings as well as humans and wild animals. It makes a wonderful nesting site for birds and is browsed by game. It is useful for formal pruned hedging, informal hedging/screening or thorny security barriers. The branches are used for bows and fishing baskets as they are flexible. It has medicinal properties to treat cuts, relieve pain and gall sickness in cattle. The magical uses are a good luck charm on hunting expeditions, rain making ceremonies and protection for huts and crops from hail damage. The Afrikaans common name of “deurmekaarbos” is very descriptive. The wood is hard and is used for stampers. Named for George Ehret (1708-1770) a German botanical artist. His unique style and clarity of illustration drew the attention of people like Sir Joseph Banks. Over 3000 of his illustration survive in private collections and Natural History Museums.

Encephalartos villosus

(Ground Cycad)

This species responds well to cultivation provided it is grown in light shade and with sufficient moisture in frost free areas. It is an evergreen shrub of 2.5m, which is also good for containers. It has medicinal value to promote longevity and is magical as it is considered a lightning conductor and a protective charm.

Ensete ventricosum

(African Wild Banana)

Evergreen large shrub that grows about 6 m high and 4 m wide. It has a stout fleshy stem crowned by lush tropical looking banana like leaves. It produces cream flowers in spring. It flowers and fruits once then dies. It is an excellent accent plant for a water garden and lends a tropical atmosphere to wherever it is planted. Plant it in full sun to semi-shade where it will thrive but water it regularly. It is medicinal and a decoction of the stem is used to treat liver problems.

Erythrina humeana

(Dwarf Coral Tree)

They occur in the Transvaal and Swaziland. This small, deciduous tree has few branches and the striking flowers occur in mid-summer. They only grow to about 2 or 3 meters tall. They are custom-built to attract birds being red and tubular and as the flowers mature over an extended period of time there are always some in prime condition for the birds, sunbirds, black-eyed bulbuls, Cape White-eye, louries and brown-headed parrots. It is suitable for a small garden and on the Highveld it needs to be against a sunny north-facing wall to prevent frost damage. It grows to its maximum size within two years and prefers a warm summer with moderate rainfall. The bark and the roots are used medicinally. An excellent choice for a bird garden. It has non aggressive roots so can be planted in a pot. It is the larval host plant for the Giant Emperor and the Protea Emperor butterflies and 11 moth species. 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.

Eucomis autumnalis

(Pineapple Flower)

An apt name for this deciduous groundcover, as the flower looks just like a pineapple, which are yellow/green in colour and open in summer. They attract birds and butterflies. It is a good cut flower for the vase as it’s long lasting and most unusual. It is frost resistant, water wise and fast growing in the sun, shade or semi-shade. Hangovers are cured by making a brew from the bulb. It is also used for kidney and bladder ailments. The leaves are used as a poultice for boils and skin problems and they are also used to treat a fever. Cattle are treated for gall sickness. A brew is used as an enema for a protective charm or the bulb is mixed with animal fat and this is rubbed into the body to protect one from illness and evil. The name is derived from the Greek eukomes=beautifully haired, eu=well and kome=hair of the head referring to the crown of leaves at the top of the flower.

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