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Grewia occidentalis

(Cross-Berry)

This small, deciduous tree is a must for all gardens, big or small. It is frost resistant, water wise and fast growing in the sun. It has pink flowers in summer followed by edible fruit which attracts birds - insect and fruit eaters like the louries, mousebirds, bulbuls and barbets. The fruit is enjoyed by people and is sometimes dried for future use. They are then boiled in milk for a delicious milkshake. It is the larval host plant to the Buff-tipped Skipper and the Rufous-winged Elfin butterfly and is useful for informal hedging/screening. It certainly is a useful tree as the fruit is used to make beer, the bark is used to make a shampoo which prevents grey hair and the bark is soaked in hot water to make bandages, string and rope.It is also magical and medicinal as small twigs and bark are soaked in hot water and this is then used to clean wounds. A tea is made from twigs and leaves and this is taken for barrenness, impotency and to ease childbirth. it is also used to was both the mother and infant after childbirth. The wood is used for assegai handles, bows and arrows, fences, hut building, making basket handles and walking sticks. It is useful on a game farm as the leaves are browsed by cattle, goats, black rhino, giraffe, kudu, nyala and grey duiker. The roots are not aggressive. It can be used as informal screening. Such a wealth of uses and pretty too. 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.

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.

Gunnera purpensa

(Wild Rhubarb)

Gunnera purpensa Wild Rhubarb This deciduous shrub grows to about 1m in the sun. It is frost resistant and produces reddish brown flowers in spring. As it grows along our rivers it is useful for wetlands or in a dam. The stems and roots are peeled and eaten and it also has medicinal value. The large leaves are 30 cm wide and are attractive next to a water feature. The leaf and flower stems can be eaten raw or cooked. The underground stem is used to promote the expulsion of the afterbirth in stock and in humans. An infusion is used to treat urinary disorders and psoriasis. It is also mixed with a Crinum bulbispermum to treat rheumatic fever pain. The roots are used to treat male and female infertility. , rheumatic fever, poor appetite, abdominal pain, colds and flu and to cleanse the blood. Named after Johan Ernest Gunnerus ( 1718-1773) who was a Norwegian clergyman, collector and scholar. He discovered many plants, birds, fish and animals. This is a protected plant in South Africa.

Halleria lucida

(Tree Fuchsia)

This small, evergreen tree, is frost resistant, drought resistant, fast growing in sun or semi-shade. The word lucida means bright and it refers to the shiny, bright leaves. In summer the orange flowers attract bees and birds - insect, fruit and nectar eaters and it is used for nesting sites so it’s a great choice for a bird garden. The berries attract pigeons, louries, parrots, thrush, bulbuls, robins and white-eyes. The flowers are full of nectar and this gives rise to the Xhosa name that means 'free food'. or 'birds beer'. This attracts sunbirds, white eyes and even weavers. It also attracts butterflies. It is useful for formal pruned hedging or informal hedging/screening. It has a lovely drooping habit. It is medicinal as the leaves are soaked in water which is then dripped into the ears for earache. It is also magical and is used as a charm against evil, lightening and bad weather. This is done by burning the trees and using the ash mixed with fat to rub onto sticks cut from Rhamnus prinoides. These are driven into the soil. Twigs are burnt when offering sacrifices to the ancestors. On a river walk in the Cape I struggled to identify the Halleria and it was only when I saw the black fruit did I realize what it was. I have never seen them that tall in Gauteng. It is useful on a game farm as the leaves are browsed by eland, kudu, nyala, bushbuck and grey duiker. The wood is hard and is used for spear shafts and to start a fire.The roots are non aggressive so you can plant it 2 meters from a building or a pool.

Helichrysum petiolare balls

(Imphepho)

A soft, vigorous shrub, which grows 0.5m - 1m x 1m. The dense, aromatic foliage smells of curry and consists of roundish leaves which are covered with silver-grey hairs. The grey leaves contrast beautifully in a garden as most other foliage is green. It also looks pretty planted next to Aristida junciformis grass. Tiny creamy-white flowers make up abundant flower heads on long stalks which add to the decorative effect of this plant in midsummer. It is magical as the leaves and stems are burnt as incense to invoke the goodwill of the ancestors. The smoke is inhaled to induce a trance. Ailments such as coughs, colds and infections are treated with this popular medicinal plant. The leaves are used by Rastafarians to make an infusion to treat asthma, chest problems, a protective cleanser and treat high blood pressure. A tea is made from the leaves to treat stress,heart problems, high blood pressure, a sedative and anxiety. The smoke of the burning leaves is inhaled as a pain reliever and used to fumigate sick rooms. The leaves are also widely used on wounds to prevent infection.The Khoikhoi used the leaves and flowers as bedding and campers still do the same today. It should be planted in full sun in a well drained soil. It should always be cut back because it grows very quickly. It an ideal plant for containers and has been used extensively abroad for decades. The dried flower are also exported. It attracts butterflies. The name is derived from the Greek (h)elios=sun : chryos =gold referring to the bright yellow flowers.

Helichrysum splendidum

(Cape Gold)

A fast growing shrub which grows to 1,5 m x 1 m within 2 years, forming a dense grey mound. The new growth on the outside is stiff, but not woody. The older branches at the base and in the middle of the bush turn hard and brown with age. The stems are covered with a thick felt of woolly white hairs. The soft young leaves are also covered with grey woolly hairs. The leaves are aromatic with a slight camphor scent when rubbed. In mid-summer, from November to February, the shrub is covered with bright yellow flowers. The flowers have a slight sweet perfume. This easy to grow shrub requires very little maintenance provided that it is given a large enough area to spread without smothering its neighbours. Like most plants with grey foliage, Helichrysum splendidum needs to be planted in the full sun. Plant in a well-composted bed with good drainage, full sun and occasional good watering. To shape and encourage new growth, the shrub can be prune lightly after flowering.

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.

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 name is derived from the Greek hibiskos the name for a 'marsh-mallow' and ibis= a stork that fed on some mallow species.

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.

Hypoestes aristata

(Ribbon Bush)

An evergreen shrub which is frost resistant, water wise and fast growing. It will thrive in the sun, shade, or semi-shade. The white, pink or mauve flowers occur in autumn and attract birds, the insect eaters, as well as butterflies. It flowers profusely when nothing else is in flower and yet it is undemanding other than an annual pruning at the end of Winter. It is lovely for small gardens, especially if you get Hypoestes Little Pink. This fast-growing evergreen shrub grows to 1.5 m high. It produces soft, hairy leaves, and has attractive pink flowers borne in spike-like inflorescence. It requires very little attention. Ribbon bush is eaten as spinach in some areas, while traditionally the crushed leaves are used as a poultice for sore eyes. Roots are chewed for flu, coughs, colds, sore throats and breast diseases. The root bark is used to treat malaria. It also makes a good cut flower because it lasts well in water and it is an ideal plant for the containers. Bees, flies and other small insects visit the flowers in search of nectar or pollen, thus becoming a food source for insectivorous birds. This is one of the best nectar plants for the Swallowtail butterflies and it is the larval host to the Forest Beauty, Yellow, Brown and Blue Pansy butterflies and 1 moth specie. The name is derived from the Greek hypo= beneath and estia= house; referring to the way the bracts cover the calyx.

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.

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.

Imperata cylindrica red baron

(Japanese Blood Grass)

An unusual and dramatic grass, slowly forming a low clump. It grows about 30cm high and 45cm wide. Leaves are green at the base, with red tips that become more intense over the summer and autumn until they appear to glow. It is effective as an edging, in the rock garden, and especially when mass planted. Although it prefers moist soil, the plants require good drainage, especially in winter. Clumps may be easily divided in the spring. Plant the Japanese blood grass in sun or partial shade and it can grow in any soil be it clay, sandy or normal. 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.

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