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Euryops virgineus

This is a very fast growing and extremely hardy shrub. It has fine, dark green needle like foliage. Plant it against a west wall where it can enjoy abundant sunshine and give you a super display of colour in return. It produces masses of small yellow honey scented flowers from July to September. It thrives in a sunny position. Prune back after flowering to keep it neat otherwise it will become very untidy. It attracts butterflies.

Portulacaria afra

(Elephant's Foot, Spekboom)

The porkbush is an attractive, evergreen succulent shrub or small tree that can reach 2 - 5 m in height, although usually around 1.5 - 2 m in a garden situation. It has small round succulent leaves and red stems. Small star-shaped light pink to deep red flowers are borne en masse from late winter to spring although flowering in cultivation is often erratic. They are a rich source of nectar for many insects, which in-turn attracts insectivorous birds. It also attracts butterflies. They thrive in warm situations on rocky slopes, in bushveld and dry river valleys. This bushy tree makes a lovely screen or hedge. The leaves of the porkbush can be eaten and have a sour or tart flavour. It is heavily browsed by game and domestic stock and highly favoured by tortoises. The porkbush is useful for preventing soil erosion. Traditional uses also include the increasing of breast milk for lactating mothers. The leaves are used to quench thirst, and sucking a leaf is used to treat exhaustion, dehydration and heat stroke. Crushed leaves can be rubbed on blisters and corns on the feet to provide relief. The leaves are chewed as a treatment for a sore throat and mouth infections while the astringent juice is used for soothing skin conditions such as pimples, rashes and insect stings. The juice is also used as an antiseptic and as a treatment for sunburn.

Aloe tenuior

(No common name)

This aloe grows into a large bush with stems up to 2 meters. There are red and yellow flowering forms and seem to flower on and off throughout the year, peaking in winter. Its natural distribution is from the Eastern Cape, through Kwazulu Natal and Swaziland into Mpumalanga. It’s a useful plant to fill a gap in a large garden. It is medicinal as root decoctions are used to treat tapeworm.

Ziziphus mucronata

(Buffalo Thorn)

This medium sized, deciduous tree is frost resistant, drought resistant and grows in the sun. It has non aggressive roots. This is a great bird garden tree as it attracts the insect, fruit and nectar eaters as well as being used for nesting sites. It also attracts butterflies. It could be used as an informal hedge/screen or as a thorny security barrier. It is an important fodder tree for game farms as it is browsed by giraffe while the fruit is eaten by baboons, monkeys and warthogs. It is protected in Free State. The raw fruit is edible, or it can be cooked into a porridge or roasted and used as a coffee substitute. The nutritious leaves are cooked as spinach and the wood is useful fuel. It is an important medicinal tree as the bark infusions are used for a cough and respiratory ailments. Root decoctions are used for pain, toothache and lumbago. The flowers are used as a fish poison. It has many magical uses as the trees are said to ward off ightening and braches are placed on the graves of chiefs.. The zig zag shaped young branches epitomize one’s path through life which is both good and bad. The leaves are 3 veined to remind us that our relationships with God, the environment and our fellow man need to be in balance. The forward pointing thorns remind us to reach for our goals and the recurved ones remind us to look back and reflect on where we have come from.

Vepris lanceolata

(White Ironwood)

This medium sized, evergreen tree grows to 6m high in open woodland but in deep forests it becomes a tall graceful tree with a gently rounded crown of shiny light green foliage. The whitish grey bark is smooth and the tiny yellowish flowers appear in sprays from December to March. The leaves and fruit are dotted with oil glands that release a citrus smell when crushed. The small, black fruits are favoured by birds. It tolerates only light frost and is fairly drought resistant once established. It makes a good screen. It grows very well in sandy soil. It is ideal for small gardens as it has non aggressive roots. Also great for bird gardens. It attracts butterflies especially the Citrus Swallowtail. The roots are powdered and used as a remedy for influenza.

Tarchonanthus camphoratus

(Camphor Bush)

Tarchonanthus camphorates Camphor Bush SA Tree No. 733 is a small evergreen tree which is frost resistant, drought resistant and fast growing in the sun. The cream flowers occur in autumn and they attract butterflies. It is a fodder tree utilized by giraffe, black wildebeest, grey duiker, eland, kudu, sable antelope, nyala, impala and springbok. It’s also useful for hedging/screening, soil erosion or as a bonsai. Do bear in mind that it has aggressive roots. The wood is used for musical instruments and it has medicinal properties. Smoke from fresh or dried leaves is used to treat a headache. It is also used for toothache, a tonic for respiratory ailments and women use the fresh leaves to perfume their hair. The dried leaves are said to have a slightly narcotic effect when smoked. In days gone by the seeds were used to stuff pillows!

Strelitzia nicolai

(Natal Wild Banana)

This evergreen tree is medium sized and gives Kwazulu Natal it’s tropical feel as it grows profusely in the dune forests. It is a rapid grower and is happy in sun or semi-shade. The stunning purple/blue and cream flowers open in Spring/Summer and attract birds, the insect and nectar eaters. The flowers are eaten by monkeys. It also attracts butterflies. It can be planted as a specimen plant or used for informal hedging/screening. It has very aggressive roots so don’t plant it near swimming pools or walls. We have one planted in a pot in the nursery to show the damage that the roots cause. It is used to make rope and the seeds are ground into flour and made into patties which are roasted.

Rhamnus prinoides


Grows in most parts of the country and grows to 4-6meters. It makes a rounded, evergreen screen which is attractive with its glossy green leaves which are browsed by game. The leaves are used in beer and wine making. The inconspicuous flowers are greenish, blooming between November and January, in small clusters. They are loved by the bees, butterflies and other insects. The fruits are about the size of a pea (about 5 mm in diameter), roundish and clearly divided into three compartments. They appear between December and June. They are fleshy and green, turning red and then purple as they ripen. The fruit is loved by many bird species, so it's a great addition to a bird garden. The wood is white to yellow, often streaked with brown, pink, red or green and is hard and heavy. It is too small to be generally useful, although sticks may be made of it. It is tough and frost resistant and grows well in most soils. It is evergreen and is good for small gardens and hedges, especially in cold areas. It is widely used by African people as a protective charm to ward off lightning and evil influences from homes and crops and to bring luck in hunting. It is also used by Africans to cleanse the blood, to treat pneumonia, rheumatism, sprains, and stomach ache, and as a gargle. It is also used in the treatment of skin complaints and respiratory infections.

Tecoma capensis

(Cape Honeysuckle)

Fast growing, evergreen shrub that copes well with drought conditions. It can grow to 2m and responds well to pruning. There are many colours available now from yellow, orange, salmon, pink and red and they flower from spring through summer. It also attracts the sunbirds, insect eaters and butterflies. I’ve seen it pruned into a formal hedge. You may need to cut it back slightly in spring if the frost has caught the tips during the winter. It also has medicinal uses and the bark infusions are used for fever, pain and sleeplessness. The nursing mothers wear a necklace of pieces of stem. Eve Palmer said in A Gardener's Year "...it doesn't care a button for heat, cold or drought, and is beautiful and fast".

Searsia lancea (Rhus lancea)


This tree has recently changed its name from Rhus lancea. It is wide spread and is only missing from Kwazulu Natal. It grows to 5-10meters and makes a lovely evergreen shade tree. it is in the top 5 frost and drought hardy trees. Our grandsons loved climbing these trees when they were little as they branch low down if left to their own devices. It attracts birds and butterflies and the fruit is enjoyed by our staff and it is traditionally also used to make mead. The leaves produce a brown dye and are also eaten by game so it’s a good fodder tree on a game farm. This tree indicates surface or underground water.


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