Barleria affinis


Family : Acanthaceae
Common names
: Downy barleria (Eng.); fluweel barleria (Afr.)

Barleria affinis

A hardy indigenous plant with interesting leaf colour and texture for sunny areas in your garden.

Barleria affinis is an unarmed erect shrub up to 1 m high. Leaves ovate or orbicular, often broader than long, long-petioled; leaves and branches densely covered with hairs; mature stems woody.

Flowers axillary and terminal. Corolla 2-lipped, the upper lip 2-lobed, lower lip 3-lobed. Upper lobes much smaller than lower lobes. Corolla tube long and slender, held in ovate calyx lobes with many innocuous teeth on the margins; petals mauve, blue or white. Anthers purple.Flowering from February to June, during which time the flowers appear sporadically.


Fruits are capsules which turn brown when ripe and burst open explosively when they become wet to distribute the seeds. Capsules 4-seeded.

Conservation status
Of Least Concern.

Distribution and habitat
Barleria affinis grows in well-drained soil (sometimes poor soils), in full sun in open woodlands, on hills and roadsides in the Limpopo Province, North West, Mpumalanga, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It is a water-wise plant and does well in dry conditions.

Growing in habitat

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus name Barleria is derived from the name of a Dominican monk and French botanist, Jacques Barrelier; affinis : related, similar or allied to.

Barleria affinis is pollinated by insects and attracts various species of butterflies.

Uses and cultural aspects
Barleria species are exceptionally suitable to stabilize soil erosion, because of their fast growth rate and seed distribution methods.

Growing Barleria affinis

Propagation of Barleria affinis takes place either by seed or cuttings.

Seed : To prevent seed being lost it can be collected as the capsules turn brown.

The seeds should be planted in a mixture of two parts good soil and one part clean river sand. Place them in a shady spot in your garden and water once a week. Germination of the seed takes place after a week. Transplanting the seedlings into bags should be done when the seedlings are more or less 100 mm high.

Cuttings: Cuttings should be done in summer. Make use of plant material of the previous year's growth. Take cuttings of 120 mm. Treat them with a hormone powder and plant them in a mixture of even parts good soil and river sand. Put the cuttings in a shady place and water twice a week. Transplant the rooted cuttings after about three months into a good soil mixture.


References and further reading

  • Little, J.R. & Jones, C.E. 1980. A dictionary of Botany . Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, New York, Cincinnatti, Toronto, Melbourne.
  • Retief, E. & Herman P.P.J. 1997. Plants of the northern provinces of South Africa: keys and diagnostic characters. Strelitzia 6. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Van der Walt, R. 2009. Wild flowers of the Limpopo Valley . Business Print Centre.
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Lowveld National Botanical Garden

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