This compact, rounded shrub or small tree makes a
good background or screening plant and should find a place in indigenous
gardens near the coast, especially as it is wind resistant.
is a dense shrub or small tree, growing to about 4 m high. Twigs
are hairy and buff-coloured.
The leaves are small, ovate to elliptic and well spaced up the branchlets.
They are often widest at the base and taper to a point. The leaves
are 15-25 mm long, with inrolled margins. The upper surface of the
leaf is dark green and rough, and the lower surface is covered with
light-coloured, fine hairs. The velvety white flowers are in small,
branched heads in the axils of the leaves and at the ends of the
branches. It is in full flower from April to August. Flowers are
followed by fruits which are velvety capsules about 13 mm in length.
The genus is confined to Africa, Madagascar and the S Atlantic Islands.
Most species are endemic to the southwestern parts of the Cape Province,
where many are restricted to small areas. Phylica buxifolia
is endemic to the area from the Cape Peninsula (Table Mountain)
to Caledon, and grows on the lower mountain slopes, often near the
sea and in rocky places.
Derivation of name
: There are about 150 species in this genus. Most are shrubs with
only 2 species in South Africa, Phylica buxifolia and P.
paniculata, which grow to the size of small trees. The genus
name Phylica is based on the greek word phyllikos,
which means leafy. The specific name refers to the resemblance of
the leaves to those of a box (Buxus).
Growing Phylica buxifolia
Seed can be harvested in November and December. It is best grown
from seed sown in March and April into a sandy, well-drained medium.
Phylica buxifolia makes an attractive, informal hedge, but
can also be lightly clipped. In flower it is an attractive addition
to cut bunches of fynbos flowers, acting as a long-lasting Cape
Green (plants used to complement the more showy flowers such as
proteas in bunches of Cape cut flowers). This is a good plant for
Mediterranean gardens which receive winter rainfall. It may require
watering in winter if grown in a summer rainfall zone. Frost hardiness
- PALMER, E. & PITMAN, N. 1972. Trees of southern Africa.
Balkema, Cape Town.
- GOLDBLATT, P. & MANNING, J. 2000. Cape plants. A conspectus
of the Cape flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National
Botanical Institute, Cape Town & Missouri Botanical Gardens.
Harold Porter National Botanical Garden