Sideroxylon inerme is a hardy, evergreen, small to medium or large tree with a beautiful, round, dark-green, lush crown. A feature of this tree is the grey-brown bark that cracks into rectangles. The leathery, dark-green leaves are smooth and shiny and turn red with age.
From November to April it bears small greenish-white, strongly-scented flowers which Mousebirds love to eat. The flowers are followed by attractive, juicy, black berries that attract birds and other wildlife to the garden.
This species has been declared a protected tree and some old specimens are National Monuments. It has many traditional and medicinal uses.
The White Milkwood makes a good garden and container subject, and grows well on the Highveld in sun or semi-shade if protected from wind.
Size: 4 to 15m
Cenchrus ciliaris is a tufted, shrubby perennial grass with bright green to blue-green leaves that are up to a metre long.
The grass culms are jointed, and roots often arise at these joints or nodes.
The flower spikes are bristly and cat-tail like, carried on stalks just above the leaves.
Buddleja auriculata is a very hardy, beautiful, evergreen shrub with a weeping habit and beautiful black-green glossy leaves that are white on the underside.
It bears fragrant lilac and white flowers with an orange centre and flowers profusely in large sprays in July and August.
It can be planted as a specimen but needs some pruning to keep it in shape.
Haemanthus albiflos is a hardy, evergreen, shade-loving, bulbous plant with mainly broad, glossy, green, strap-like leaves, although they are very variable and can sometimes be hairy. The upper half of the bulb is bright-green and is exposed above ground.
The beautiful ‘paintbrush’-type inflorescence is borne from April to September. It has a papery, green calyx encasing a head of many long, thin, white flowers that are yellow-tipped with pollen. The orange-red berries that follow are an attractive feature.
The pollen attracts bees and butterflies to the garden while birds love the succulent berries. It is also used in traditional medicine.
This plant makes a wonderful container plant as it likes to be pot-bound. Use as an indoor plant as well. This is a shade-loving plant and, if left undisturbed, will flower and thrive in those dark, difficult areas of the garden.
Plant in well-drained, compost-rich soil. Remember when planting out to leave the top half of the bulb exposed.
Size: 20 to 25cm
Acacia nigrescens (=Senegalia nigrescens) is a hardy, small to large stately deciduous tree is characterised by its knob-studded grey or yellow trunk and branches. The hooked spine-tipped knobs are prevalent on young trees but are less evident on older specimens.
Sweetly-scented spikes of creamy-white flowers are produced from August to November. When in flower this tree is alive and humming with the multitude of insects and birds that feast on the pollen and nectar offered up.
It is an important browse tree for game and generally indicates good ranching land.The graceful, tall canopy attracts Paradise Flycatchers and hole-nesting birds. It is the host plant of the Demon Emperor Butterfly.The wood is very hard and used extensively.
It makes a good bonsai and container subject.It grows in a wide variety of soil types in full sun.
Size: 5 to 18 metres
Acacia nilotica (=Vachellia nilotica) is a hardy, semi-deciduous, small to medium-sized, mushroom shaped tree with dark blackish-brown, fissured bark when mature and a dense crown.This fissured bark is home to many invertebrates and therefore attracts Woodpeckers and other insectivorous birds.
The masses of yellow puffball flowers adorn the tree on and off from September to April.The fragrant, distinctive ‘string of beads,’ decorative pods have a fruity smell and are excellent fodder.The edible gum makes a good quality glue.
Yellow, red or black dye can be made from the pods.The wood is easily worked for furniture and the whole tree has many medicinal and traditional uses This tree is a little slow-growing but is tough and very drought-resistant.
It grows in both well-drained and clayey soils in sun or semi-shade.
Size: 3 to 10 m
Silene bellidioides is a very hardy, evergreen, perennial plant with tall, erect, sticky stems and rosettes of leaves at the base.
From October to April, the plant produces one or more flowering stems that have a few branches with flowers positioned at the tips of each branch. The flower petals are white or pale pink and deeply divided. The long, tubular flower calyx is pale green, striped with dark-red veins. The beautiful, scented flowers open in the evening, and shine like neon lights at night, attracting moths to pollinate them.
Traditionally, this plant is used as a love-potion.
It is an excellent addition to a sunny grassland garden.
Plant in full sun or semi-shade in well-drained soil.
Size: up to 30cm
Volkameria glabra (=Clerodendrum glabrum) is a very hardy, semi-deciduous, fast-growing, small tree or large shrub with a dense crown. It has shiny, dark-green leaves that are pungent when crushed.
From December to June it bears profuse, dense clusters of white to pinkish flowers that have long stamens. In some specimens the flowers are wonderfully scented, whilst in others the scent can be pungent.These are followed by tightly packed yellowish-white berries that attract birds to the garden.
An important host plant of moths and butterflies – an absolute must for a butterfly garden. The flowers also attract a whole host of pollinating insects and the nectar in the flowers is an important food source for bees.
It is extensively used for medicinal and traditional purposes.
Plant in sun or semi-shade in well-composted soil.
Size: 2 to 6m
Carissa edulis is a hardy, much-branched, evergreen, fast growing shrub or climber that has glossy, leathery leaves, which are sometimes hairy and have red growing tips. The hard rigid spines are almost always single.
Masses of beautiful, white flowers tinged with pink appear from September to December. These are followed by edible fruit that turns purplish-black when ripe, and because it is so sweet and juicy, makes a good jam or jelly.
The fruits attract birds to the garden.
It makes a good hedging plant, whether pruned to keep compact or left to grow freely. It needs to be controlled in a smaller garden but can be allowed to grow wild if you have the space where it will scramble through the trees.
Can be grown in semi-shade, but prefers full sun and flowers more profusely in the sun.
Size 1 to 3m
Ficus craterostoma is a fairly hardy, semi-decidious, medium sized strangler fig with a rounded, spreading crown and pale grey bark. It has fairly small leaves for a fig, which are dark glossy green, blunt tipped like a fish’s tail, and spirally arranged, making them an exceptionally attractive feature of this plant.
The stalkless, hairless figs, which are inverted flowers, are borne in the axils of the leaves. The small figs turn yellowish red when ripe from May to December.
The figs attract many fruit-eating birds to the garden. Makes a wonderful container plant or bonsai.
Plant in sun or shade.
Figs should not be planted close to walls and paving as they have aggressive root system.
Size: 5 to 10m
Metarungia pubinervia is a hardy, deciduous to semi-deciduous, fast growing, medium or large sized shrub with attractive, large, almost quilted, dark green leaves.
The beautiful, bright red flowers that resemble snap-dragons, are borne along the tops of the stems from April to June. Their nectar attracts Sunbirds, which are their pollinators, as well as a whole host of insects that find it irresistible.
It makes a lovely understory shrub.
Plant in semi-shade or shade, in compost rich soil.
Size: up to 4m
Nuxia floribunda is a hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, neat and attractive tree that is quite small in drier conditions, but if its roots find water it can get quite big.
Pale grey, smooth bark contrasts beautifully with the glossy, dark-green leaves that turn quite purple in winter.
Its huge heads of showy, sweetly-scented, white flowers cover the tree from May to September. The flowers attract a whole host of small pollinating insects, moths and butterflies that in turn attract birds.
It has many magical and medicinal uses.
It grows well in a container, and is also a lovely tree with which to create a small forested area in the garden.
Plant in either full sun or semi-shade and water regularly.
Size: 3 to 10m
Erythrina humeana is a hardy, deciduous, fairly fast-growing shrub or small tree with dark olive-green, trifoliate leaves.
The long-lasting, gorgeous, brilliant red, long flower spikes are carried above the leaves on slender stalks.
Maytenus undata is a very hardy, evergreen large or small tree. Its height is very variable, and depends on the area in which it is growing. The colder it is the smaller the tree. The bark is grey-brown with patches flaking off and leaving pinkish blotches.
One can tell the hardiness by the foliage form - the smaller and more leathery the leaves, the hardier the tree. The foliage is variable in size and colour from pale to dark-green and gives off a musty scent when rubbed.
It bears creamy-white flowers all summer (from September to May).
In April the tree produces black seeds covered with orange flesh that attract birds.
Makes a good garden subject or container plant and is a must for a wildlife garden.
Plant in semi-shade or sun.
Size: 1 to 6m
Kalanchoe rotundifolia is a hardy, evergreen, erect succulent groundcover. The petioles are pink and the edges of the leaves are pinkish.
It bears spikes of small tubular bright yellow flowers on branched flowering stems from March to December.
The nectar-rich flowers attract many butterflies and other pollinating insects
Plant in amongst grasses or as an element of a rocky succulent garden.
Size: up to 50cm when in flower.
Calodendrum capense is a hardy, semi-deciduous, large tree.
Acacia karroo (= Vachellia karroo) is a very hardy, semi-deciduous, fast-growing and drought-resistant tree.
Abundant, fragrant, yellow puffball flowers light up the landscape, and adorn the tree intermittently (in response to rain) throughout summer.
Stachys aethiopica ‘Pink’ is a hardy, evergreen, spreading groundcover, with beautiful pale-green, almost quilted leaves.
It bears spikes of small, pink, tubular flowers mainly in spring but with a few flowers almost all year round.
Delosperma cooperi is a hardy, evergreen, fast-growing, prostrate, succulent groundcover.
Peddiea africana is a fairly hardy (not frost hardy), small, slender tree or large shrub, with dark grey-brown, fibrous bark. The shiny, dark green leaves are clustered at the ends of branches. New leaves are a shiny, pale green, giving a decorative contrast of foliage on the plant.
The clusters of yellowish-green flowers (Sept. to Feb.)
Typha capensis is a very hardy reed that can be either evergreen or deciduous depending on local climate. It is robust, fast-growing and is widespread. It only grows partially submerged in water. It has long, grey-green stems with blue-green leaves.
From December to January, the stems end in the typical, cylindrical, velvety brown ‘Bulrush’ flower. These turn into seeds covered in ‘cotton wool’ which helps with dispersal of seeds.
This ‘cotton wool’ is used to stuff cushions.
It has many traditional and medicinal uses.
The Bulrush can be used in boggy areas, among wet pebbles and is one of the best plants to clean grey water. It helps to keep pond water clean and healthy. It is used extensively for the rehabilitation of wetlands and other permanently wet areas. This plant creates vital habitat for many bird species, fish fry, frogs, terrapins and many other aquatic creatures.
This plant spreads quite aggressively by its rhizomes and should only be planted in containers in garden ponds where it can be controlled.
Plant in full sun and prune and clean once a year.
Size: 1 to 2.5m
Juncus inflexus is a very hardy, evergreen, tufted, perennial rush with stiff, erect, grey-green stems.
In spring and summer, brown, dry, scaly flowers are crowded at the tips of these stems. The little seeds that follow the flowers are reddish to golden brown.
This rush is used traditionally to weave baskets.
This is a wetland plant that will add a feeling of authenticity when planted on the edges of a pond. It can also be used in boggy areas, among wet pebbles and in grey-water systems.
Plant in full sun and prune and remove dead stems once a year.
Size: up to 1m
Justicia capensis is fairly hardy, evergreen medium to large shrub with small, glossy, velvety leaves and scented, magenta flowers with white markings all year.
Flowers attract numerous pollinating insects including butterflies.
Used in traditional medicine to attract customers to a business or to improve the chances of employment.
Good garden plant for forest gardens or shady gardens.
Prune to encourage a denser growth habit. Plant in sun or shade, in well-drained, loamy soil.
Size to 2m
Diospyros austro-africana is a very hardy, attractive, evergreen, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree whose mature, medium- to dark-brown bark, blisters and peals into long, narrow flaky-strips. The reddish-brown branches are finely-haired, similar to the fine hairs on the attractive, small obovate leaves which give this shrub/tree a dusty-silvery appearance.
From August to September it bears pendulous, creamy-white, cerise-pink or red lantern-like flowers which attract birds, butterflies and other insects to the garden. The berries that follow turn red then black and are much sought after by birds. Male and female flowers on separate plants therefore only females bear seed.
This tough, water-wise plant grows in full sun or semi-shade.
Size: 6 to 10m
Salvia radula is a hardy, evergreen perennial with large, quilted, aromatic, grey-green leaves that have woolly, white undersides and are crowded at the base of the plant. The leaves are an attractive feature of the plant.
Luminescent, white flower spikes are borne during summer. These are showy and held well above the plant.
Bees and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. It has many medicinal uses.
Plant in groups to add texture and colour to a garden bed. Makes a great addition to a cottage-style garden and rockery.
Prune quite severely after flowering to keep in shape.
This drought-tolerant plant requires full sun and well-drained soil.
Size: 30 to 40cm
Greyia radlkoferi is a small, gnarled, hardy, deciduous tree that has a crooked main stem and rough fissured bark.
The bright green leaves are velvety and turn red in autumn.
The striking orange red flowers that adorn the tree from July to November are laden with nectar and attract insects and birds.
Remove the dead leaves to keep looking neat and show off the flowers.
A very decorative garden subject for a sunny or semi-shade position. Protect from frost when young.
Size: 3 to 6m
Dovyalis longispina is a hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous shrub or small to medium-sized tree with glossy, dark-green, roundish, shiny leaves. The new growth is red.
The small whitish-yellow flowers appear in clusters from August to October Male and female flowers are on separate plants, therefore only female plants will bear fruit. The leaves drop during flowering but new leaves re-appear immediately.
The delicious, edible fruit is a beautiful pale red with white spots (they look a lot like strawberries).
The long, thin spines make this an ideal plant for a security hedge, but it is also an attractive garden plant. Attracts birds to the garden.
Plant in full sun or semi-shade in sandy or well-drained soil.
Size: 5 to 8m
Plectranthus chimanimaniensis is a hardy, evergreen shrublet (protect the first winter) with small, semi-succulent, soft-textured and aromatic, dark-green leaves.
The numerous individual flowers are a delicate pink, with soft, pink wings that have a white lip. They are carried on strikingly long pink flower spikes which are borne in such abundance that they ensure that the flower-to-foliage ratio is particularly high. It appears that this gem is never out of flower, but is mainly in flower from spring to early winter.
Attracts butterflies and tiny insects to the garden. This is a useful garden and container plant.
Prune regularly. Tolerates light frost and drought. Plant it in compost-rich soil in full sun or semi-shade.
Size: up to 80cm
Cassinopsis ilicifolia is a hardy, evergreen, decorative large shrub with glossy, bright green leaves and green stems.
The branchlets have a zigzag pattern and single spines.
Duvernoia aconitiflora is a fast growing, hardy, evergreen shrub with glossy, light green leaves.
Steganotaenia araliacea is a fairly hardy, variably deciduous, small tree with a lovely waxy sheen to its grey-green, peeling, papery bark. The pale green leaves with sharply toothed margins have a hair-like point.
The inconspicuous small, tightly bunched greenish white flowers appear from August to October, followed by papery seeds. All parts of the tree smell strongly of carrots. The flowers attract pollinating insects to the garden.
Plant in a rockery or succulent garden in a spot that is protected from the cold wind and in well-drained soil.
While it is most often found in full sun in its natural habitat, it will grow equally well in semi-shade in cultivation.
Size: 2m to 6m
Barleria greenii is a very hardy, deciduous, spiny, small shrub. It has masses of gorgeous, huge pink, Petunia-like flowers in summer.
They are sweet smelling at night which suggests that they are moth pollinated and have copious nectar that attracts Carpenter Bees and other insects to the garden.
A beautiful garden plant that is stunning when planted in groups. Rare in cultivation.
Plant in full sun but it can also tolerate partial shade. Prune back in winter to ensure masses of flowers in summer.
Size 30 to 80cm
Gazania krebsiana is a perennial, evergreen, clump forming, low growing, drought tolerant, attractive free flowering groundcover.
The flowers are orange to scarlet and appear in late winter and spring. Hybrids are available in many bright colours.
The flowers are edible and it has many traditional uses.
Grows best in full sun and well-drained soil, therefore ideal for rockeries and containers or in a grassland garden.
Size: Up to 30cm
Grewia lasiocarpa is a hardy, evergreen, large shrub or small tree with smooth, grey bark and dense foliage. The leaves are large, almost circular, rough-haired above, and densely covered with soft hairs below.
The attractive, large star-shaped pale pink flowers occur from January to March, followed by 4-lobed, furry, reddish fruit from March to July.
The fruit attracts birds and, in the wild, warthogs and baboons. These fruits may often remain on the tree for long periods, eventually turning black.
Although this plant tolerates most climates, it does best in areas of high rainfall. Plant in sun or semi-shade.
Size up to 3.5m
Andropogon huilense is a hardy, evergreen to semi-deciduous, moisture-loving, perennial, tufted grass. It has a reed-like appearance and leaves that have a prominent, white mid-rib.
From September to June it bears a tall, flowering stalk topped with beautiful, silvery-white, feathery flowers and seed-heads that glisten in the sunlight.
It is the host plant of the Dark Small-branded Swift butterfly. The fluffy seed-heads are a sought-after nesting material for birds.
This grass is tall but does not have a huge tuft, making it ideal for smaller gardens. It makes a beautiful backdrop as it sways in the lightest of breezes and the flowers sparkle and add movement to the garden. Plant in a grassland garden, around ponds and along streams to great effect.
As with all grasses it should be cut back once a year and raked to remove the thatch. Requires sun or semi-shade and sufficient water.
Size: Flowering stem up to 1.9m
Euryops tysonii is a very hardy, evergreen shrub with small, densely packed, small, leathery leaves are arranged close to the stems. These make it a particularly decorative small shrub which is dense and has an upright, and at the same time sprawling, growth habit.
The relatively large, sweetly scented, bright yellow, daisy-like flowers are clustered at the end of the stems and are borne from September to May.
The flowers attract many pollinating insects to the garden and if you watch carefully you may be lucky enough to see a perfectly camouflaged Crab Spider living in the centre of the flower.
It requires full sun and looks beautiful in the rock garden, shrubbery, mixed border, on terraced slopes, in retaining walls and also makes a lovely container plant.
Combretum imberbe is a hardy, slow growing, bulky, deciduous tree which can grow to tremendous old age. The silvery-green leaves are unusually small for a Combretum.
The small, white, puffball flowers, borne from September to March, are very fragrant and attract a myriad of insects and birds.
Plant in sun or semi-shade to give a garden that Bushveld feel. Protect from frost when young.
The wood of this tree is extremely heavy and makes wonderful coals but should never be collected from the wild as it is an important part of the ecology of the bushveld and it is now illegal to collect it.
Size: up to 15m
Aloe parvibracteata is a hardy, evergreen, stemless Aloe that suckers freely. The leaves are carried in a compact rosette and have spots in bands.
The branched flower stem bears dull-red or coral-red flowers on tall stems and are borne in winter, June to August. Insects and sunbirds are attracted to its copious nectar.
Use in a grassland garden or plant en masse for a stunning display. Unusually this Aloe thrives in swampy areas so can be planted around a pond with great success. It also makes a wonderful container plant.
It is not fussy about the soil and will grow in clay soils. Plant mainly in full sun but it will tolerate a little shade during the day.
Size 20 to 40cm
Euclea natalensis subsp. capensis is a hardy, evergreen, very attractive shrub or small to medium sized tree (depending on where in grows). It has a dark, spreading crown of shiny, hard and leathery leaves with red undersides.
The strongly scented small, creamy white flowers are borne from August to March and are followed by edible round red to black fruit from March to December.
It attracts birds and insects to the garden. With its dense crown it makes a good screening plant and can be planted singly as a beautiful specimen tree.
It has many traditional, medicinal and magical uses. Twigs are used as toothbrushes.
It is a little slow growing and should be planted in sun or semi-shade.
Size: 3 to 10m