The name Chrysanthemoides pertains to its likeness to the
genus Chrysanthemum (meaning yellow flower), many
of which are popular garden subjects.The specific name 'monilifera'
means 'bearing a necklace' and pertains to the shiny, fleshy
fruit arranged on the margins of the daisy flowers, like a necklace.
This plant was named Osteospermum monilifera by Linnaeus
in 1754. The present name was given by T. Norlindh in 1943.
Chrysanthemoides consists of 2 species, both
endemic to southern & eastern Africa, both with fleshy fruit,
immediately separating it from all other plants in the daisy family
(Asteraceae) to which they belong. C. monilifera is a today
a serious weed in Australia.
monilifera is a fast growing perennial, semi-succulent, spreading
to 2 m tall. Branches grey to grey-green, smooth ascending, fleshy
at first becoming woody. The leaves are simple, alternately arranged,
oval to to broadly lanceolate, fleshy and have short petioles of
up to 10 mm long. The leaf blade are about 45 mm long and 24 mm
broad green to grey green and the surface of the young leaves covered
with dense cobweb-like hairs, becoming smooth with age. The flowers
are borne on branch ends in groups of up to 5. The flowers are typical
daisy-like (involucre) and up to 40 mm in diameter, bell-shaped
and bright yellow. This larger 'flower' typical of the daisy family
is made up of many individual densely arranged tubular male and
female flowers and termed the involucre. The marginal female florets
are sterile and each with a single yellow petal. The fruit is unique,
deviating from all other members of the daisy family. It is fleshy,
egg-shaped, edible and sweet, at maturity brown, blackish or purple
and up to 6 mm in diameter.
The bietou is one of the most variable and widespread indigenous
shrubs and has been divided into a number of distinct subspecies.
It is widely distributed along the coast from the N. Cape, W. Cape,
E. Cape and along the Drakensberg escarpment in KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland,
Mpumalanga and further into the Chimanimani Mountains of eastern
Zimbabwe and to northern eastern Africa. It occurs in fynbos, strandveld,
grassland, subtropical coast, and margins of afro-temperate forest-
and grassland vegetation. The subsp. monilifera is from the
Western Cape and is the one most often find in cultivation. Here
it occurs in both strandveld and fynbos.
The plant occurs in full sun in well drained situations such as
coastal dunes, hills, mountains (fynbos, or grassland) or rocky
terrain, often part of a natural shrubbery or sometimes growing
as asolitary individual. It is a pioneer, often appearing after
fires. Its life span is between 8-12 years, after which the plants
become woody and untidy and are best replaced. Its semi-succulent
nature makes it drought tolerant. The Afrikaans vernacular name
bietou is derived from the original Khoi name. Although it
may flower throughout the year, its main flowering time is during
late autumn and winter. It is pollinated by insects and bees find
it particularly attractive. The fleshy fruits, appearing shortly
after the flowers, are very popular among frugatory birds .
According to Smith in his Common Names of South African Plants
(1966) bietou fruit was formerly used by the Khoi and San as a food
source. Other uses an infusion of the leaves as an enema to treat
fevers (Coates Palgrave).
Growing Chrysanthemoides monilifera
The bietou is easily grown and makes an attractive garden asset
and especially useful pioneer shrub for the new garden. It thrives
well in strandveld, fynbos, seafront and grassland gardens. It is
a rapid grower, requires a sunny, well-drained position and sufficient
space. The shrub is very striking during winter, when the bright
dense yellow flowers appear. It makes a striking combination grown
with white blombos (Metalasia muricata) and orange hedge
aloe (Aloe arborescens) candles. It can also be pruned into
Ample compost annually during winter or spring will enhance growth
and performance. Bietou is relatively pest free and an asset to
Seed germinates with some difficulty and needs scarification (mechanical
or chemical). Plant seed in sandy, well drained soil and sow in
spring. The seedlings are fast growing and should be transplanted
to small containers when large enough to handle.
The vaalbietou (Chrysanthemoides incana) is closely related
ground cover shrub bearing grey leaves and similar flowers and fruits
to our treated species and is excellent for difficult seafront gardens.
Hutchings, A. 1996. Zulu Medicinal Plants, an inventory.
University of Natal Press.
Palgrave, K.C. 1977. Trees of Southern Africa.
Van Breda, P.A., & Barnard, S.A. 1992. 100 Veld plants of
the winter rainfall region. Department of Agricultural Development,
Ernst van Jaarsveld