Gently crush the leaves of this buchu and you will discover its
liquorice scent. Interesting, Agathosma lanceolata is a spreading
shrublet, with beautiful pink to mauve flowers carried in terminal
heads. This buchu is an asset in any garden and is best displayed
along borders or edges. It can also be grown in a container.
Forming an open or lax shrub, it grows to a height of 500 mm. Individual
flowers are large and form quite open terminal clusters. They are
white with a pink or mauve throat. The honey buchu flowers from
April to July. The flowering bush attracts pollinators and bees
and butterflies are regular visitors.
Agathosma lanceolata occurs naturally on south-facing sandstone
slopes on the Cape Peninsula.
Growing Agathosma lanceolata
Agathosma lanceolata does best when planted in a fairly
cool, semi-shaded position such as the south side of a house. It
requires a soil that is well drained, composted and enriched with
a well-balanced fertilizer (3:2:1).
Planting buchus into your garden is best done after the first good
winter rains have started (May to July in the Cape). Buchus respond
to fairly dense plantings, which helps to retain soil moisture.
An annual mulching of well-rotted compost is advised to reduce weeds
and keep the soil temperature low.
Buchus can be grown from seed or cuttings. Buchus produce their
seed in a capsule from which it is expelled on ripening. This phenomenon
is known as ballistic dispersal. Fresh seed is sown in autumn.
Cuttings have the advantage of producing a larger flowering plant
quicker than seedlings. Tip cuttings, 50-70 mm, are taken from the
current year's growth (January to February). Prepare cuttings by
making a clean cut below the node and removing a third of the foliage.
Dip the base of the cutting in a rooting hormone such as Seradix
2. Firmly place the cuttings in a medium of 50% bark and 50 % polystyrene.
Ideally these cuttings should now be placed in an well-aerated propagation
unit with a bottom heat of 24-degree Celsius. Rooting occurs in
9 to 11 weeks. Carefully pot the rooted cuttings using a well-drained
humus riched fynbos-potting medium (2 parts leafmould, 1 part coarse
sand). Plants will be ready for planting in 7 to 8 months. Feed
regularly with a well-balanced nutrient. Yellow leaves can be treated
with an application of iron chelate.
There are 150 species in the genus Agathosma and most are
found in the Western Cape.
The word Agathosma is derived from the Greek meaning agathos,
pleasant and osme, small. The name refers to the volatile
oil in the glands, dotted on the leaves and fruit, which emit a
pleasant aroma when touched. In this case, the plant is decidely
liquorice-scented! The origin of the common name of this species
is not clear, but it may indicate copious nectar.
Buchus are well known herbal plants. A.betulina is the species
most commonly used in herbal remedies.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden