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Plectranthus zuluensis

(Zulu Spurflower)

An evergreen groundcover that grows to about 1,5m x 1,5m. It grows very fast and produce spikes of pale blue-mauve flowers throughout the year. This soft wooded shrub is suitable for containers and shady spots in the garden. It prefers very light well drained soil that contains plenty of compost. Water well in summer while it is actively growing and less in winter. This is the larval host plant for Bush Bronze, Mocker Blue, Eyed Pansy, the March Commodor and the African Leaf Commodor butterflies.

Plumbago auriculata

(Cape Leadwort)

An old faithful favourite amongst gardeners and landscapers. It is dependable, evergreen, drought hardy and fast growing. Plant it in the sun or semi shade and look out for the blue flowers in summer. These will attract butterflies and birds, which also use the bush as nesting sites. The flowers are edible and look pretty in a fruit salad or floating in a cooldrink. It responds well to pruning and if left to its own devices, it will scamper up to the tree tops. The roots and the leaves are used medicinally for headaches and the root bark is used as a bathing lotion to heal matrimonial discord. It is also magical and is said to heal fractures, and confuse enemies. Bundles of twigs are tied up into the roof rafters to ward off evil and prevent lightning. Root infusions dispel bad dreams and malaria and powdered root is put on warts and used as a snuff for headaches and fractures. A fire is made from the plant and the cattle and sheep are led through the smoke as this keeps them together and protects and defends them. This is the larval host plant to the Common Blue and the Short-toothed Blue butterflies. The name is derived from the Latin plumbum=lead; ago=resemblance, connection. The roots contain a fatty, lead coloured dye.

Plumbago auriculata alba

(Plumbago)

This medium size evergreen shrub has a tendency to scramble. It has small delicate, pale green leaves and produces masses of white phlox-like flowers throughout summer. This fast growing, fairly drought resistant shrub may also be planted against a fence to form a screen or in an informal border where it can be kept neatly pruned. This attractive plant does particularly well in frost free areas but if damaged by frost it will recover rapidly in spring. The roots are used as traditional remedies to relieve headaches, treat fractures, wounds and remove warts. It is also said to confuse enemies, ward off evil and prevent lightning.It is an ideal plant for containers. Butterflies and sunbirds are constant visitors.

Podalyria calyptrate

(Sweetpea Bush)

This a sturdy, fast-growing, evergreen, well-branched shrub of 2-3 m or a small tree of 4-5 m. The leaves are simple, alternate and oval or egg-shaped and up to 25 mm wide, green-grey in colour and sparsely covered with silky white hairs on the upper and lower surfaces that give the leaves a silvery sheen. Young growth is velvety. The flowers are large, 25 mm or more across, very showy, mauve-pink to pink and most have a white spot in the centre. Flowers are borne in winter-spring-early summer. The flowers are followed by hard, inflated, furry brown pods. They are found on the bushes from about October until January. The pods split to release several small seeds. It is quick and easy to grow. It does best in well-drained, well-composted, acidic soil and in summer rainfall areas it must be watered well in autumn and winter. It does not thrive in alkaline soils. It is wind-tolerant and drought tolerant. It looks lovely when planted in a mixed border. Attracts birds and butterflies. This plant occurs in the south-western Cape and will not cope with the Highveld's frosty winters. This plant occurs in the The name is derived from the Latin podiliriuis and the Greek Podaleirios, son of the god of healing..

Polygala fruticosa

(Heart-Leaved Polygala)

This is a neat, evergreen rounded shrub up to 1 m tall. The young leaves of this indigenous evergreen are tinged with purple, the shade echoed by the deep purple, winged flowers. Peak displays of flowers occur from spring to early summer, giving an unequalled show. It also produces a scattering of blooms throughout the year. Bees are particularly attracted to the nectar that the flowers produce and are the main pollinators. Seeds are enclosed in papery, flattened capsules that remain on the bush for quite some time during and after flowering. This hardy plant requires no special care. Good, enriched soil, full sun or semi-shade and plenty of water, will ensure rapid, healthy growth. It has excellent waterwise properties, and once established it will tolerate fairly heavy drought. Perfect as it is waterwise garden. It attracts birds and butterflies. The name is derived from the Greek poly=much and gala = milk as it is believed that cows that eat this plant produce more milk. Fruticosa means shrubby.

Polygala virgata

(Purple Broom)

This erect, slender, eye catching, evergreen shrub grows to a height of 1,5 to 2,5 m. A single stem is formed at the base of the plant and slender hairless branches occur at the top. It is fast growing, hardy and can be grown in any garden in South Africa. Once established in the garden it will tolerate drought, wind and some frost. With its beautiful sprays of flowers it will be an accent plant in a shrubby garden or rockery. Planted in good enriched soil in a sunny or semi-shade position in the garden. The purple tuft of hairs is a distinctive characteristic to identify all Polygalas. Peak flowering time is from September to February. The fruit is a two-celled capsule and the seed is small, black and oval shaped.Simple leaves are alternately arranged on younger branches and usually drops before flowering. The leaves are narrow in shape, dark green with a velvety texture and 10 mm in length. It grows naturally on bushy hillsides and along stream banks. It grows in sandstone, clay or limestone slopes and along forest margins. The leaves and stems were traditionally prepared and used as blood purifiers. It is anti viral and is used to treat Herpes simplex. The plant is grazed when in reach of stock and game. The beautiful flowering sprays can be used in a vase. The shrub is a buzz with bees, insects and bumblebees which are attracted to the bright purple magenta flowers. It is the larval host plant for the Long-tailed Blue butterfly.

Psychotria capensis

(Black Birdberry)

This is an evergreen shrub or small tree, 3-8 m, with a slender stem, horizontal branches and pale brown bark. The leaves are shiny, light to dark green above and paler below which are smooth and leathery. They are fairly large, 70-150 x 15-60 mm and often drooping. This very decorative shrub is a must for all frost-free gardens. It is not suitable for a Highveld garden.Not only is it a year-round attraction, either in fruit or flower and it is also easy to grow. Growing equally well in sun or shade, it is perfect for those difficult, summer-shade winter-sun spots under large trees. Plant in groups or repeat plant throughout the bed. Given a thick layer of mulch it will grow in any soil and only requires additional watering in summer and in dry conditions. It is also successfully grown in containers on balconies and patios. Golden yellow flowers are borne in flattish, terminal branched heads up to 80 mm in diameter from spring to midsummer (August to January). They are visited by bees and butterflies. The flowers are followed in late summer to winter (January to July) by large, flat clusters of pea-sized, shiny yellow fruits ripening to red or black. Birds such as the bulbuls, starlings, robins, mousebirds, white-eyes and barbets find the berries irresistible. It is used medicinally as a root infusion is given for gastric complaints. The wood is hard and fine grained. The name is derived from the Greek psychotria = vilifying, referring to the healing properties of this plant.

Rhoicissus digitata

(Baboon Grape)

This climber spreads to 10–15 m, but it can also be a shrub to about 1.5 m. The small, greenish-yellow, inconspicuous flowers are borne in clustered, drooping, branched heads in the leaf axils in late summer. Red-brown to purple fleshy berries, approx. 15 mm in diameter, resembling “grapes” but tasting rather tart, ripen from autumn to winter. It is made into jam, jelly and vinegar . A relatively fast growing and vigorous climber that requires sun with some shade and compost-enriched soil to thrive. It grows well on fences as a screen and it can also be trained around a pillar for shading on a pergola, or allowed to make its way up into a tree or spread across the ground as an attractive groundcover in full sun and in semi-shade. It can even be allowed to form a small loosely stemmed shrub. Once established it will tolerate moderate frost and drought. The flowers have nectar that attracts bees and wasps. 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.

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.

Salvia africana lutea

(Brown Salvia)

This is an aromatic, evergreen, hardy shrub with unusually coloured flowers borne over a long period of time. It is fairly fast-growing and very attractive to wildlife. This is an excellent choice for coastal gardens, as it prefers light, well-drained soil and full sun. It tolerates strong winds, and is drought resistant. They are cultivated successfully further inland and upcountry, and it is capable of sprouting from its rootstock and recovers from frost damage. It prefers a warm sheltered spot in the garden if you live in a frosty area. Flowering begins in early spring, and the bright yellow flowers soon fade to rusty-orange and then reddish brown. After the petals fall, the saucer-like calyx, which becomes papery with age, remains as an added attraction. The flowers are both attractive and a curiosity. . They are sweetly scented and attract sunbirds and moths.It is the larval host plant to the Mocker Blue, Sabi Smoky Blue, Graham's Blue. Ketsi Blue and Variable Blue butterflies. A tea is brewed to treat coughs, colds, liver and digestive problems and female ailments and bronchitis. The name comes from the Latin 'salvere' meaning to save or to heal and 'lutea' comes from the fact that the flowers are yellow when they open.

Salvia chamelaeagnea

(Blue Salvia)

This is an evergreen shrub that is easy to grow, flowering in a range of colours through summer. With its upright growth and fresh green foliage it also provides texture and contrast. For best results, these plants require full sun, well-drained, good garden soil and regular water, especially in winter. Flowering bright blue during the long hot summers, these plants grow easily even in the dry landscapes, riverbeds and in sandy soil among rocks. It also attracts birds and it is the larval host plant to the Mocker Blue, Sabi Smoky Blue, Graham's Blue. Ketsi Blue and Variable Blue butterflies. A tea is brewed from the leaves and this is used to treat colds, coughs, diarrhea, flatulence, heartburn and female ailments.

Senecio barbetonicus

(Succulent Bush Senecio)

This neat, compact, rounded shrub has long narrow, needle-like succulent leaves that almost resemble skinny jelly beans. It grows to 1.5m high and 1.5 wide. The small sweetly scented yellow daisy flowers are displayed in spring. It grows in sun and semi-shade. It is a drought resistant and frost hardy plant. This shrub when planted in the garden requires moderate watering in summer and very little in winter. Trim it once in a while to keep it neat. It attracts butterflies and is browsed by game. The name is derived from the Latin senex=an old man. The white hairy pappus (scales or bristles) of the seed is reminiscent of an old man's beard.

Senecio tamoides

(Canary Creeper)

A vigorous fast-growing climber which has semi-succulent stems and leaves. It has a spread of 4 x 2 m. It is mostly evergreen, but during severe winters or in areas that suffer from frost, it will react deciduously, dying back and then recovering beautifully again in the spring. The light green, shiny, fleshy leaves resemble those of ivy in that they are roughly triangle-shaped with unequal lobes and are attractive all year round. The wonderfully bright canary yellow daisy flowers are borne massed in clusters during late summer and autumn .making a lovely show; they also have a delightful aromatic scent. The seeds are typical of the daisy family-fluffy and creamy white. The canary creeper is a frost tolerant, fast-growing garden plant that grows easiest in full sun, in well-drained composted garden soil against a wall or fence. Feed regularly to encourage good health. Water sparingly as this plant is semi-succulent and can tolerate long periods of dryness once it is established. It prefers a warm climate, and dies back in colder climates but will recover quickly and easily; prune away any frost damaged parts. There is nothing more stunning than a sheer drop of masses of golden yellow flowers and this creeper literally drips with flowers when in full bloom. In traditional medicine it is used to treat anthrax in cattle and flatulence. The flowers attract butterflies and the larvae of the Tricoloured Tiger and Delegorgue's Prince Moth feed on Senecio species. The name is derived from the Latin senex=an old man. The white hairy pappus (scales or bristles) of the seed is reminiscent of an old man's beard.

Stachys aethiopica

(Wild Sage)

This is an evergreen groundcover. It has opposite, ovate, toothed leaves with glandular hairs. Whorls of mauve, white or pink flowers are produced in August and September and some suggest all year round except in midwinter. The scent exuded by this plant is similar to cat urine. The plant straggles in Fynbos, grassland, scrub or forest to a height of 50 cm along the southern and eastern coasts of South Africa and into tropical Africa. It is used for the treatment of internal hemorrhoids, influenza, gynecological problems and liver disorders. It also attract birds, bees and butterflies. The name is derived from the Greek for spike, originally an ear of wheat, and it refers to the flower spike.

Strelitzia reginae

(Crane Flower)

This evergreen shrub is water wise and is Kwazulu Natal's floral emblem. It will thrive in the sun or semi-shade. The striking orange and blue flowers open on and off all year. They attract birds - insect and nectar eaters as well as butterflies. It is a statement plant suitable for containers. It is ideal for small gardens and is long lasting in a vase. This plant is one of South Africa's most successful exports! It was sent to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew in 1733 and was named by Sir Joseph Banks. It was named in honour of Queen Charlotte, the wife of George 111. George decided to send a gift to Catherine the Great of Russia. He sent 300 Strelitzia which weighed 3 tons by cargo ship, escorted by a frigate, to St Petersberg. They were then loaded into 15 coaches to be driven to their new home at Pavlovsk. When I lived in San Francisco I noticed that it was planted everywhere in parks, pavements and gardens. One would have thought that it was their national flower. This plant, like so many of our South African plants is used medicinally as decoctions from the flower is used as an enema for inflamed glands fro VD. Named for Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (1744-1818) who married King George 111 of England in 1761 after being selected unseen from a list of German princesses. The marriage was a great success and King George was devoted to her. She cared for him during his long slide into insanity though terrified by his occasional outbursts of violence. She was an amateur botanist who helped expand Kew Gardens. She died in 1818 and was buried in St George's Chapel in Windsor.

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