Freylinia tropica S. Moore

Family name: Scrophulariaceae
Common names:
Transvaal honey-bell bush, Blue Freylinia, Inyanga hedge plant (Shona)


Butterfly on Freylinia tropica

Painted by Cyntha Letty for Flowering Plants of AfricaFreylinia tropica is a beautiful shrub with slender rather loosely spreading branches. It is fairly fast growing and reaches a height of about 2m with 1m spread. It flowers profusely yielding a light mauve to bright blue display. A white flowering form is available and is not as upright in its growth form as the blue. Flowering time for this stunning shrub is mainly in spring.

This genus was named after Count L. de Freylino, owner of a famous garden at Buttigliera near Marengo in the early 19th century. There are 9 species of Freylinia in South Africa, of which 8 are found in the Cape Province. South African species include F. crispa, F. decurrens, F. densiflora, F. lanceolata, F. tropica, F. undulata, F. visseri and F. vlokii.

The blue freylinia grows naturally in the Northern Province of South Africa and Zimbabwe. It occurs at a high altitude, in margins of evergreen forest and along streams. Freylinia tropica can also be found growing on exposed misty mountain slopes. Where it occurs, it is frequently a pioneer plant on cleared land.

Growing Freylinia tropica

Freylinia tropica hedgeThe quickest way of propagating Frelinia tropica is by using cuttings. One may also use seeds as a way of building up genetic variance. Cuttings should be taken during the growing season, unless they are grown in a sophisticated growing structure with artificial heating and a mist bed. For a high percentage of rooting, cuttings should be treated with root stimulating hormones. Root formation can be expected between 10 - 22 days. Rooted cuttings may be hardened off by exposing them to more light and reducing the supply of water. Strong cuttings can then be planted in nursery planting bags before transplanting into the garden. Plant Freylinia tropica in semi-shade, with good; well-drained soil and plenty of compost. Freylinia tropica requires a water supply throughout the year, but less in winter. It can withstand cold and frost but young plants must be protected during the first winter. Trimming keeps this plant neat and encourages bushiness.

Freylinia tropica is used often in South African gardens for screening. The plants also do well in containers on the patio. They are highly versatile and decorative shrubs and will work in most garden designs.


  • Joffe, P.1993. The Gardener's guide to South African Plants. Tafelberg, Cape Town.
  • Coates Palgrave, .K.1983. Trees of Southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.


Thompson T. Mutshinyalo
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden
September 2001

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