Diosma prama I.Williams
Common names: false buchu
Take a closer look at Diosma prama with masses of tiny creamy white flowers covering the entire bush during the flowering season. It creates a buzz of activity attracting bees, butterflies and other insects to your garden.
Diosma prama is distinctive in that its branches are practically glabrous (hairless). It forms a single-stemmed shrub with a round and compact habit, growing to a height of 1 m.
Small, white, star-shaped flowers are borne at the tips of branches and measure 5-8 mm in diameter. Flowers are either borne singly or 4-12 flowers are crowded together. Flowering season from March to September (autumn to spring).
Leaves are light green in colour, lanceolate, 1-5 x 0.5-2.0 mm, sessile (lacking a stalk) and alternately arranged on the branches and stems. Oil glands are found scattered towards the midrib of the leaf, and when crushed, releases a sweet scent. Tiny black seeds are borne in a 5- chambered capsule.
Distribution and habitat
Diosma prama naturally occurs on dry sandstone slopes around the Touwsberg and Klein Swartberg to the Baviaanskloof Mountains in the Eastern Cape.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
Diosma is derived from the Greek meaning d ios, divine, and osme, odour (referring to the scent when leaves are crushed). The genus Diosma is comprised of 28 species found in the south and southwestern Cape.
Diosma prama is a slow grower and best planted in a mixed fynbos border or planted as a filler plant towards the back, with smaller buchus such as Agathosma ciliaris, Acmadenia heterophylla, Adenandra uniflora, and colourful herbaceous perennials towards the front. It forms an interesting specimen when planted in a container and positioned in full sun on a patio or stoep. It is an excellent long-lasting cutflower that can be used like gypsophila. Lovely in bouquets because handling releases the sweet fragrance of the foliage.
Growing Diosma prama
Planting Diosma prama in your garden is best done during the autumn and winter season. It requires a full sun, well-drained soil, compost and an annual layer of mulch. Buchus respond to fairly dense planting, which helps to retain soil moisture.
Diosma prama can be grown from seed and cuttings. Seed are borne in a capsule from which they are expelled on ripening. This is known as ballistic dispersal. Fresh seed is sown in autumn. Young seedlings are pricked out into 0.5 litre bags when four true leaves have developed, using a fynbos medium. Pinch out the growing tips of the seedlings to encourage bushy growth. Flowers are produced after two years.
Cuttings have the advantage of producing a larger flowering plant quicker than seedlings. Tip cuttings, 50-70 mm, are taken from the current year's growth (December to February). Prepare cuttings by making a clean cut below the node and remove the a third of the foliage. Dip the base of the cutting in a rooting hormone. Firmly place the cuttings in a medium of 50% bark and 50 % polystyrene. Ideally these cuttings should now be placed in a well-aerated propagation unit with a bottom heat of 24ºC. Rooting occurs in 9 to 11 weeks. Carefully pot the rooted cuttings using a well-drained, humus-rich, fynbos potting medium (2 parts leaf mould, 1 part coarse sand). Plants will be ready for planting in 7 to 8 months. Feed regularly with a well-balanced nutrient. Yellow leaves can be treated with an application of iron chelate.
Other interesting species are:
- Diosma acmaeophylla, commonly known as ribbokboegoe, grows to a height of 2.5 m. The leaves are linear and arched, flowers white to cream-coloured from July to January. Occurs naturally around Clanwilliam, Namaqualand and Matjiesfontein.
- Diosma ramosissima is a well-branched shrub, reaching a height of 1.5 m. Leaves are linear, dull blue-green, with a strong scent when crushed. Flowers white or greenish in colour from August to November. Grows naturally on either side of the Olifants River, in Namaqualand and near Worcester.
- Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J. 2000. Cape plants. A conspectus of the Cape flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria & Missouri Botanical Garden, Missouri.
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape, Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy
Flowering season: Spring, Early Summer
Flower colour: Green, White
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Average