Euchaetis meridionalis I.Williams
Common names: Agulhas bearded-buchu
This is an amazingly tough and hardy plant, a diehard that can last for years, and a very useful filling-type of shrub for the coastal fynbos garden.
A dense shrublet of 1.0 × 1.5 m. The leaves are closely overlapping (imbricate), arranged in opposite pairs, with adjacent pairs at right angles (decussate), ascending, with a minute stalk (subsessile), ovate, folded and have a fringe of minute hairs along the margin (ciliolate). Leaves give off a resinous exudate at their point of attachment to the stem, which can be seen as a whitish residue.
Between 4–6 flowers can appear on a single branch tip. The clawed petals are white or pale pink and transversely bearded with hairs which obscure the reproductive parts. Flowering is in winter and spring, from April to November.
The fruits have distinctive horns. As with all other species of buchu, this genus also has a characteristic fruit which consists of 1–5 free carpels. These carpels completely separate during maturity, as each one splits down an inward-facing line. Hygroscopic properties of the inner layer of the wall enable the powerful release of a large single seed.
According to the Red List of South African Plants, checked on 14 July 2016, the conservation status of this plant is Least Concern (LC).
Distribution and habitat
It is restricted to limestone proteoid fynbos in the eastern part of the southern Overberg, from Agulhas to Cape Infanta.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The generic name Euchaetis, translated from Greek, literally means ‘beautifully tufted with hairs’, pointing to the bearded inner margin of the petals. The specific epithet meridionalis, means ‘blooming at noontime’.
The genus Euchaetis consists of 23 species, of which nearly 50% have a threatened status.
As with most other buchus, the flowering period sees this species become abuzz with bees, which pollinate the flowers. Butterflies and other nectar or pollen-feeding insects are also seen visiting the flowers. Seeds are dispersed by being shot out of the seed capsules at high speed.
No medicinal or cultural uses have been recorded to date.
This species is an incredibly tough shrublet which also performs well in well-drained soil in coastal sandstone fynbos as a filler plant.
Growing Euchaetis meridionalis
Euchaetis meridionalis thrives in full sun and well-drained, sandy soil, and can be grown in alkaline, neutral or acidic soil. The ideal time for planting is in the rainy season, between autumn and winter. This enable plants to have a better chance of establishing themselves in the garden before having to cope with the harsh, dry conditions of summer. Planting intervals of 200-300 mm, usually provides ample space to encourage growth. This relatively dense planting is preferred by buchus, since it assists with retaining soil moisture. Provide a good thorough watering in autumn and winter. In summer, irrigation should be moderate; however, plants must never be allowed to dry out completely. Mulching also helps in keeping the roots and soil cool during summer.
Plant this buchu among other fynbos plants such as: Phylica ericoides, Pelargonium capitatum, P. cucullatum, P. betulinum and P. suburbanum, Protea compacta and P. scolymocephala, Osteospermum moniliferum (=Chrysanthemoides monilifera), Thamnochortis insignis, Restio dispar, Felicia filifolia and F. echinata, Lobelia valida, Syncarpha argyropsis, Salvia africana-lutea, Oedera imbricata, Chaenostoma subspicatum, Chrysocoma coma-aurea, Cotyledon orbiculata and Lampranthus aureus. Some of the buchu-species of companion plants may include: Agathosma serpyllacea, A. collina, A. imbricata, A. ciliaris and A. apiculata, Coleonema album and C. pulchellum, Acmadenia mundiana and A. obtusata and Adenandra gummifera and A. obtusata.
This species is successfully propagated by taking cuttings. Take cuttings of 25–55 mm from the current year’s growth; remove a third of the leaves and cut below the node. Dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone and place in trays with a medium consisting of coarse river sand or equal parts of bark and polystyrene. Pot the rooted cuttings into a well-drained mix and then move them to a shady area for 2–4 weeks, to harden off. After this, move the plants into full sun. Prune the young plant regularly to ensure a bushy growth habit. Regularly feed the young plants with some balanced nutrient products. After 7–8 months, since moving the plants into full sun, it should be ready for planting.
Propagation from seed has not yet been undertaken at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden.
- 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.
- Gould, M. 1992. The buchus: cultivation and propagation. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.
- Mustart, P., Cowling, R. & Albertyn, J. 1997. Southern Overberg: South African Wild Flower Guide 8. Botanical Society of South Africa, Cape Town.
- Powrie, F. 1998. Grow South African Plants. A gardener's companion to indigenous plants. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.
- Stearn, W. 2002. Stearn's dictionary of plant names for gardeners. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon.
- Trinder-Smith, T.H. 2003. The Levyns Guide to the plant genera of the south western Cape. Bolus Herbarium, UCT, Red Roof Design CC, Cape Town
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Plant Type: Shrub
SA Distribution: Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy
Flowering season: Spring, Early Summer, Autumn, Winter
PH: Acid, Alkaline, Neutral
Flower colour: White, Pink
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Easy