Chaenostoma pauciflora


Family: Scrophulariaceae
Common names: Trailing phlox; Rankende floks (Afr.)


This is an attractive, dainty-looking, trailing perennial groundcover with small, triangular, dark leaves and tiny white flowers.

Chaenostoma pauciflora (pronounced Kee-no-stoma) is a trailing perennial groundcover, with evergreen herbaceous foliage. The leaves are opposite and triangular with toothed margins. The largest blades of the leaf is 5–12 mm × 5–9 mm. Chaenostoma pauciflora grows up to 10 cm high and spreads up to 45 cm. Flowers are axillary with a very short corolla tube which is broadly funnel-shaped; flowering time is from September to April. Seeds are pale in colour.

Trailing growth of plant

Chaenostoma pauciflora is closely allied to C. rotundifolia however, C. pauciflora differs in having longer hairs on the vegetative parts and calyx, and leaves may be elliptic. The most significant characteristic of C. pauciflorum is the length of the corolla tube, and shape and toothed margins of the leaves.

Chaenostoma pauciflora is a somewhat hardy perennial that grows fast in any soil type and spreads vigorously.

Conservation status
Chaenostoma pauciflora is Red Listed as Least Concern.

Distribution and habitat
Chaenostoma pauciflora is endemic to South African and distributed in the centre of the country through parts of the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape provinces. It also occurs nearer the coast in the region of Port Elizabeth and Grahamstown.

It grows in partially shade, but prefers full sunlights. It is found thriving in karroid vegetation on rocky mountain slopes.

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus name, Chaenostoma, means gaping mouth. The specific epithet, pauciflora, is derived from the Latin words pauci- , meaning ‘a few', and – flora, meaning ‘flowers'.

Chaenostoma pauciflora is pollinated by bees.

Uses and cultural aspects
There are no cultural uses known for this plant. It is mainly known for its horticultural purposes, as it is often planted in hanging baskets or between stepping stones.

In bag ready for planting

Growing Chaenostoma pauciflora

Chaenostoma pauciflora is propagated by cuttings or by separating rooted runners. Replant the rooted runners and water thoroughly until the plant is well established. Chaenostoma pauciflora is useful to plant at the edges of water gardens, under trees, to support soil in wet areas, and often used as a ground cover between stepping stones or sleepers. The plant is also perfect for hanging baskets.

Acknowledgement.: Shirley Smithies of the National Herbarium, Pretoria is thanked for assistance.

References and further reading

  • Hilliard, O.M. 1994. The Manulea. A Tribe of Scrophulariaceae. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh.
  • Joffe, P. 2001. Creative gardening with indigenous plants. A South African guide . Briza, Pretoria.
  • Manning, J., Goldblatt, P. 2013. Plants of the Greater Cape Floristic Region 1: the Core Cape flora . Strelitzia 29. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.


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Sthembile Zondi

KwaZulu-Natal NBG

August 2013



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

This page forms part of the South African National Biodiversity Institute's plant information website