Agathosma ovata 'Kluitjieskraal'(Thunb.) Pillans

Family: Rutaceae
Common name:
False buchu (E); Basterboegoe (A)

A.ovata "Kluitjieskraal"

Agathosma ovata is a variable shrub and occurs from the Western Cape up into Kwazulu-Natal and Lesotho. It is commonly known as the false buchu. 'Kluitjieskraal' is one of the selected forms of Agathosma ovata grown and displayed at Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden. The cultivar name 'Kluitjieskraal" refers to its place of origin. Agathosma ovata 'Kluitjieskraal' is found growing near the Kluitjieskraal River at Tulbagh/Wolseley and in the Ceres district. It is found growing on Table Mountain sandstone.

Close - up of flowersAgathosma ovata 'Kluitjieskraal' produces dense clusters of pink flowers which cover the entire bush, creating a magnificent show. The profusion of flower and colour attracts pollinators such as bees, and other insects.

This buchu forms a compact, evergreen shrub growing to a height of 500mm and spread of 600mm. Showy display of dark pink flowers cover the bush from mid autumn to early spring (May to September). The five-petalled, star-shaped flowers are 8mm broad and are borne towards the tips of the branches. The leaves are small, typically ovate (10-15 mm long). Glands containing volatile oils dot the leaves.

Buchu's volatile oils also act as a deterrent to plant eaters and protect the bushes from pests. The oils may also be released on hot days to from a layer of vapour that protect the plant from excess transpiration. (Gould 1990).

The buchus grown commercially for their medicinal properties and essential oils are Agathosma crenulata and Agathosma betulina. Oil is extracted for use in manufacturing cosmetics, soaps and medicinally for the treatment of renal disorder and chest complaints.

The medicinally properties of this plant were discovered by the Khoi who named the plant "buchu".

"Glentana"Agathosma ovata 'Glentana'and Agathosma ovata 'Witteklip'are two other selection forms of this species which make good garden plants.

Agathosma ovata 'Glentana'forms a neat, upright, evergreen shrub and grows to a height of 1-1,5 m. Pale pink flowers cover the bush from late winter to spring.

Agathosma ovata 'Witteklip'a compact aromatic shrub covered with white star shaped flowers from late winter to spring. It grows to a height of 500 mm and is especially suited to coastal gardens.


Growing Agathosma ovata 'Kluitjieskraal'

Agathosma ovata 'Kluitjieskraal' has a neat appearance and grows at a moderate rate. It is an ideal water-wise plant for any home garden and requires minimal water once established. It can be grown as a groundcover, filler plant, clipped into a hedge, grown in a pot or used in a herb garden.

This buchu adapts easily in any garden and requires a well-drained, humus riched soil. Grow in full sun or in an area where it will receive sun for at least half the day. Planted in shade, flowering and flower colour are adversely affected. Plants require moderate watering and will respond well to slow released fertilizer such as 3:1:5. Pinch back new growth to encourage bushy growth.

Agathosma ovata 'Kluitjieskraal' can be propagated from seed and cuttings. Fresh seed must be sown in autumn on a medium of equal parts sand, loam and compost. Lightly cover sown seed with bark and water. Young seedlings will emerge after four weeks.

Propagating buchus from cuttings has the advantage of producing a larger flowering plant. Softwood or herbaceous cuttings, 50-70mm long, are taken from the current year's growth. Prepare cuttings by making a clean cut below the node and remove the third of the foliage. Dip the base of the cutting in a rooting hormone. 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.

Further Reading:
Gould, M. (1990): Agathosma ovata : designed for living. Veld and Flora Vol.76 (4): 112-113


Norma Jodamus
June 2001


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