Freylinia vlokii

Van Jaarsv.

Family: Scrophulariaceae
Common name: Rooiberg honey bell bush

Freylinia vlokii

Freylinia vlokii is a shrub bearing beautiful tubular mauve flowers and is an ideal plant for dry fynbos gardens.

Description
Freylinia vlokii is an erect evergreen shrub that grows to a height of 3 m. It has small egg-shaped to lanceolate leaves covered with short hairs (pubescent) with straight margins, in contrast to the distinctly crisped and hairless (glabrous) leaves of Freylinia crispa. The corolla tube is mauve and glabrous at the throat and is slightly curved. A unique feature of this species is that the flower stalks (pedicels) and calyx lobes are covered in short hairs. This beautiful shrub flowers from mid-winter to spring (July-August).

Status
Freylinia vlokii is listed as Least Concern, which means not threatened according to the Western Cape Red Data List, April 2006.

Relationships
The genus Freylinia consists of eight other species, namely F.tropica , F.crispa, F.undulata, F.longiflora, F. helmei, F. visseri, F. lanceolata and F. densiflora.

Distribution and habitat
Freylinia vlokii occurs on the lower southern slopes of the Rooiberg, in the region of Ladismith, in succulent karoo on the farm Assegaaibos. Plants of this species are scattered on steep south-facing screes in acidic soil. F. densiflora Benth., F.lanceolata L.f. and F. undulata are the only other species found in the Little Karoo region. This region receives 200-300 mm rain per year which falls during both winter and summer.

Derivation of name
The genus Freylinia was named after Count L. Freylino who owned a well known garden in Italy in the 19th century. Freylinia vlokii is named after Mr Jan Vlok of the Cape Department of Nature Conservation who collected this plant on the Rooiberg together with Mr Mike Viviers.

Ecology
Freylinia vlokii, along with F.crispa, F. helmei and F. visseri, is pollinated by sunbirds. All the other species of the genus have shorter flowers with shorter tubes and are mainly insect-pollinated.

Freylinia vlokii as depicted by V Thomas in FPA

Growing Freylinia vlokii

Like all the other species of the genus, Freylinia vlokii can be grown from cuttings. This is, however, not as easy as with some of the other species. Semi-mature tip or heel cuttings can be taken in spring or early summer. It is best to make use of a rooting hormone to stimulate rooting which should take place within three to four weeks. Whenever the cuttings are rooted they should be placed in a dry area where they can be hardened off for two weeks. The cuttings should then be potted into a well drained soil mixture. As in the case of Freylinia helmei propagation from seed has not been tried yet.

Freylinia vlokii is an excellent water-wise garden plant. Because of its dry natural habitat it should be planted in a sunny dry part of a garden, in a well drained soil. It is essential that these plants dry out completely after irrigation before water is applied again. Plant combinations should therefore be carefully planted according to water requirements. Because of its growth height, this Freylinia should be planted near the back of a garden in full sun with smaller shrubs and ground covers in front of it. This species is a resprouter after fires and can also be pruned according to need.

Freylinia vlokii is also a good container plant and will respond well to regular feeding.

Hope everyone enjoys growing Freylinia vlokii. Till next time!!

References  

  • Van Jaarsveld, E & Thomas, V. 1995. Freylinia vlokii, Flowering Plants of Africa 54: 84-87, pl. 2117, National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

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