Barleria greenii M. & K.Balkwill

Family : Acanthaceae (Acanthus Family)
Common names:
Green's Barleria / Wild Bush Petunia

Barleria greenii

The plants form much branched shrubs up to 1.5m in height with robust stems which are woody at the base. The leaves have small hooks at the tips.

The flowers are large and most striking and appear from mid- to late summer. They vary from white to pink and occur in groups in the axils of the leaves. The flower bracts are stiff and spiny. The flowers emit a strong, sweet fragrance at night and produce copious quantities of nectar which attracts bumblebees. Hawk moths have been observed feeding from the flowers at night and are thought to be the pollinators.

Derivation of name and historical aspects
Derivation of Name : Barleria = after Jacques Barrelier, 1606-1673, Dominican monk and botanist. greenii = in honour of Dave Green, a farmer and amateur botanist from the Estcourt district in the KwaZulu Natal midlands who discovered the plant.

Distribution and habitat
This spectacular shrub is a narrow endemic, naturally occurring in a small area in the Estcourt region of KwaZulu Natal. It has only recently been discovered and was only officially named in 1984.

Barleria greenii is restricted to heavy, black clay soils on doleritic rock. It can be found in open rocky areas and is most abundant in moist areas such as along drainage lines or streams. Although it is very common where it occurs, it is regarded as rare due to highly restricted distribution and specific habitat requirements.

Growing Barleria greenii

This species makes a beautiful garden subject as it flowers so prolifically. It grows under a wide range of conditions and is frost hardy. Plants are easily propagated by tip cuttings or from seeds. Once established, seedlings should flower within 18 months. Pruning back in late winter or early spring will encourage prolific flowering and dense, bushy growth.

Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden
March 2001

To find out if SANBI has seed of this or other SA species, please email our seedroom.

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