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Trees, Shrubs, Aloes, Grasses and Ground Covers.
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(presently Rotheca myricoides)
Blue-flowered Tinderwood (E)
Blue Cats Whiskers (E)
Blue Butterfly Bush (E)
Blue Glory Bower (E)
Cultivated for over a hundred years, this hardy, woody, scrambling shrub or small tree makes a wonderful flowering pot plant – with dense, glossy, egg-shaped foliage and dainty, two-tone, blue to purple, butterfly-like flowers, each with an elegantly protruding stamen. Presently cultivated worldwide, they are native to Uganda, tropical Africa.
Lamiaceae (The Mint, Salvia and Deadnettle family)
A cosmopolitan family of flowering plants and the largest of the order Lamiales, with 236 genera and somewhat 7000 species.
Members can be found worldwide but occur mainly in the tropics or similar appropriate habitats.
The family includes mostly perennial or annual herbs, but some are woody shrubs and subshrubs, trees (teak) or infrequently, vines.
Many members are widely cultivated for their aromatic and often edible leaves, medicinal properties, ornamental qualities and ease of cultivation.
The leaves are generally simple, oppositely emerging or whorled, fragrant and contain volatile oils.
The flowers are usually arranged in clusters, are bilaterally symmetrical and bisexual.
The fruit is frequently a dry nutlet.
The family has conventionally been considered closely related to the Verbenaceae,, but recent phylogenetic studies proposed that many genera classified in the Verbenaceae should be classified in the Lamiaceae.
The trees are typically found in the groves of rocky places, along hillsides and river or stream banks, open woodland and shrubby bushveld, as well a coastal bush, from Natal to Transkei, at elevations of up to 1400 m.
They can also be found in and along the margins of evergreen forests and are often associated with termite mounds.
Pale grey, smoother or younger trees, becoming rough and furrowed, and often marked with lenticels.
The main trunk is typically slender and multi-stemmed, with dark, purple-brown, velvety, and angled branchlets that are characteristically swollen at the nodes with conspicuous leaf marks and a scattering of raised dots.
The leaves are generally oval to elliptic or lanceolate (15-100 x 10-50 mm), with the more pointed tip at the base.
They are clustered at the ends of sucker or coppice branchlets and can be oppositely arranged or whorled.
Both surfaces are velvety, the upper soft and finely hairy, while underneath there is a dense covering of yellowish-white, fleecy and often blotchy hairs.
The margin is coarsely serrated, and the base tapers into the leafstalk, which can be 10-15 mm long.
The leaves have a pungent, even rank smell when crushed.
Dainty, bilaterally symmetrical flowers, each with 5 ovate petals, the upper 4 whitish-green, and the lower electric blue to light purple.
They have conspicuously protruding stamens, grow in small terminal heads and have a diameter of 15-20 mm.
The flower panicles sprout from the ends of long arching branches and are 100-250 mm long.
October to January.
Small, (6-10 mm), 2-4 lobed berries, yellowish green when young, maturing to black.
Each is partly enveloped by the spreading calyx in the immature phase.
December – February.
The bark has numerous antifungal properties and is crushed to a powdery form after which it is used to treat snakebites, reduce bodily swellings and relief indigestion.
It is also used to treat colds, chest pains and headaches, as well as being applied to bleeding gums.
The edible fruits are taken as a remedy for skin ailments.
The root bark is said to be an effective treatment against fever in cattle, and diarrhoea in calves.
The root itself is said to help improve spleen and liver ailments.
Some parts of the tree have been recorded as being toxic if ingested, and care should be taken when small children are near or if parts of the plant wish to be utilised.
The delicate flowers lure butterflies, honey and Carpenter bees, while the edible fruits are soon devoured by birds and monkeys.
This fairly hardy, tall shrub or small tree is ideally suited for container planting, as it does not have an aggressive root system, is fast growing and responds very well to pruning.
It is recommended that the plant be trimmed every year to encourage prolific flowering.
It is not too fussy with regards to lighting and will do well in shady areas.
Planted gregariously, the trees look wonderful in a flowerbed or mixed shrub background.
They can also be trimmed to make a sturdy border or screen, and also look lovely when planted as a single specimen.
Flowers are produced in abundance throughout summer sand well into autumn, and they are perfect for small or townhouse garden, as well as patio planting.
The aromatic leaves are a deterrent for insects, and this is a good pest repellent plant.
As it naturally prefers a tropical climate, it will only endure moderate cold, and can survive temperatures of up to -5°C in a sheltered area.
Young and unestablished plants should ALWAYS be sheltered from extreme cold and wind. it will survive the occasional dry spell.
The pungent leaves and twigs seem to repel most insects, and this plant is not easily affected by most plant diseases or pests.
Fast growing. Due to its rapid growth habit, especially in moist areas, regular pruning is essential if a neat shape is desired or if it is planted in a container.
Cut back the old wood to a pair of buds to improve flowering.
It prefers a shady position but needs at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
Soil & Water
A compost and humus rich, peaty or loamy, well-drained and evenly moist soil will ensure optimal growth.
In the growing season, a liquid fertiliser can be added once a week, and this can be reduced to one a month in winter.
It has moderate to high water requirements and should be given extra water during the summer months, every 3-5 days depending on rainfall.
Mist foliage frequently.
Propagate by seed, green hardwood cuttings or suckers.
Seeds should be sown in an organically rich mix of compost and river sand (1:2), the placed in a temperate, bright area and misted often.
Keep soil evenly moist but allow time to dry out between watering’s.
Cuttings and suckers (shoot growing from the base or root of a tree that gives rise to a new plant), can be placed in a similar mixture, and misted often.
A root stimulating hormone can be applied to cut-offs to accelerate growth.
Regardless of winter temperatures, prune the stems hard to the ground in early spring if compact plant form is desired.