Name Derivation: Dissos = "twofold", in reference
to the anthers which are two different types; canescens, refers
to the greyish-white hairs on the plant.
This pretty shrub looks remarkably like a dwarf version of the
related South American tibouchina trees (Tibouchina spp.)
which are grown in the more tropical parts of the country. This
is where the similarity ends! Our pink marsh dissotis is a soft
wooded shrub up to 1.5 m in height and 1m in spread. It is deciduous
in winter and may be grown in a warm position on the highveld where
it is dormant for the coldest months.
large brilliant magenta flowers appear from December to April and
make a spectacular display. They contrast well with the dark green
to purplish leaves and reddish stems of the plant. The flowers are
quite unusual in that they have two sets of stamens (pollen producing
parts) which differ from each other. Five are purple and curved
and the other five are shorter and yellow in colour.
The Pink Marsh Dissotis can be found growing in marshy areas from
the Eastern Cape through the eastern regions of South African and
into tropical Africa.
Growing Dissotis canescens
It is a rewarding garden plant provided it is given enough water
in summer. It makes a good shrub border specimen. A prime position
would be near a pond where it can obtain plenty of moisture. It
prefers full sun and thrives in good soil with lots of compost.
It may be grown from seed in spring and cuttings taken in spring
and summer. It is also possible to propagate it from rooted runners
which may be lifted.
It has been traditionally used as a famine plant and also to treat
dysentery and hangovers.
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden