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Ruellia otaviensis

This is a tough, low-growing groundcover, with funnel-shaped, purple flowers opening in the warmer months. It thrives in sun or shade and forms a good groundcover in difficult areas. It is quite drought tolerant and it should be trimmed back in late winter to keep it neat. A decoction of the leaves is given for weakness and the leaves are also used for ear complaints.

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.

Plectranthus purpuratus

(Vicks Plant)

This very fast growing groundcover grows to 40cm high and 40cm wild. It thrives in shade or semi-shade. It has fuzzy, crinkled leaves with purple veins. The leaves are aromatic hence the common name of Vicks Plant. It produces tiny little white or purple flowers. It is an ideal plant for a hanging basket on a patio or in a container under trees. It has a lovely drooping habit as it scampers over the edge of containers.

Kalanchoe sexangularis

This is a robust, erect succulent with attractive, broad green leaves that turn ruby- red in winter. The leaves are thick and heavy with irregularly lobed margins.Grown in a slightly shaded position, the leaves will be green with red edging. In full sun or cold weather the leaves turn an unusual dark wine red. Plant it in full sun and in well drained soil. It is suitable for a border in a coastal garden. It also attracts bees, butterflies and other insects which will attract the insect eating birds.

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.

Crassula arborescens

This is a medium sized shrub or small tree that glows silvery as a result of their bluish-grey foliage. It is an impressive looking single-stemmed, or many branched shrub or small tree, easily reaching a height of up to 3 m. The trunk is thick and fleshy and has a smooth, green-grey bark. The leaves show very little variation and are thick and fleshy, with a blue-grey colour, with a reddish rim, and the petiole is very short or absent. The star - like flowers are very showy and carried in dense branches above the leaves. They are white to pink in colour and open from Spring to Summer. After pollination, the flowers turn to a papery brown seed, which in itself is quite decorative. It attracts birds.

Calamagrostis epigeos

This is a tufted rhizomes perennial, occurring in clamp ditches or grazed grassland. It thrives in moist, light shade, but will adapt to a wide range of conditions and it can also grow in heavy clay soil. The flowers are attached to branches rather than to the main axis of inflorescence and there are no hairs on the surface of the leaf sheath. A very beautiful grass that has a long flowering season starting in Spring and continuing right through till the end of summer.

Albuca nelsonii

(Nelson’s Slime Lily)

Albuca nelsonii is an evergreen, bulbous perennial, which grows in clumps and is 60 to 120cm high when in flower. The leaves are strap shaped and rather sappy. Its flowers are white with green stripes. They are produced from September to November. The leaves are attractive all year. This bulb needs very little water so are useful for a waterwise, drought resistant garden. They thrive equally well in sun or full shade. The flowers are ideal for the vase.

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.


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