Euryops virgineus (L.f.) DC.
Common names: honey euryops, river resin bush (Eng.); rivierharpuisbos, heuningmagriet (Afr.)
Many collectors of South African plants have raved about this attractive plant, and J.D. Keet, who collected a specimen as early as 1918 in the Knysna District, said this 'showy shrub would be suitable for borders or hedges in gardens'.
The honey euryops is a much-branched, evergreen shrub of up to 3.5 x 1.5 m. The branches are mostly straight, densely leafy in the upper parts, but bare lower down and rough because of the leaf scars. The leaves are dark green, small, 5-12 x 2-7 mm, palmate (like a hand with webbed fingers) or fan-shaped, with 3 to 7 lobes arranged alternately or spirally on the branches. Masses of small, bright yellow, honey-scented daisy flowerheads, 8-10 mm in diameter, consisting of both ray and disc florets, are produced terminally from late winter to spring (July-September), making it a conspicuous sight from afar. Each flowerhead consists of an outer row of 'petals' which are the ray florets. The disc florets are in the centre of the flowerhead, and are fused into tubes and resemble the stamens of other flowering plants. The flowers last well in a vase and will brighten a dull, cold winter's day! The fruits (cypselas) are small, 1.8-2.5 mm long, oblong, slightly angled, smooth and shiny yellow or light brown. They are topped with a tuft of short, white hairs (pappus hairs) which is soon lost.
Distribution and habitat
Euryops virgineus is endemic to southern Africa and occurs naturally in the southern coastal areas from Bredasdorp in Western Cape to Alexandria in Eastern Cape, often at low altitudes. It extends inland into the Swartberg Mountains, up to about 1 200 m. It is found in fynbos on mountain sides, sandy hill slopes, roadsides and sometimes on limestone. It also grows in karroid scrub and in grassland.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The species name virgineus comes from the Latin word virgo meaning virgin, untouched - certainly descriptive of the plant in full flower growing in its natural habitat.
The sweetly scented flowers are visited by swarms of honey-bees which are obviously responsible for the pollination of the florets. The fruits (cypselas) are not adapted for any special distribution mechanism and they will fall close to the mother plant. They could be carried away by a strong wind, heavy rain or insects.
Growing Euryops virgineus
The honey euryops is very showy when in full flower. It needs full sun and moderate water. It is evergreen, frost-hardy and drought- and wind-resistant when established. However, it is advisable to water the plants during winter in the summer rainfall areas. They like some spray on the leaves in the dry winter atmosphere. It is fast-growing and therefore perfect for new gardens, where it rapidly fills empty spaces. Plant it at the back of a flower bed or as a hedge. Prune the plants back hard after flowering to keep them tidy. You may have to replace old plants after a few years when they have become too leggy and untidy. Propagate from seed or cuttings, but cuttings will grow faster and flower sooner.
- Herman, P.P.J. & Joffe, P. 2003. Brighten your garden with South African daisies. Poster presented at the First International Meeting of Deep Achene: The Compositae Alliance, on 9-10 January 2003, at the National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
- Joffe, P. 1993. The gardener's guide to South African plants. Tafelberg, Cape Town.
- Nordenstam, B. 1968. The genus Euryops. Part 1. Taxonomy. Opera Botanica 20: 138-142.
National Herbarium, Pretoria
Plant Type: Shrub
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape, Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy, Clay, Loam, Brack/saline
Flowering season: Spring, Winter
Flower colour: Yellow
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Easy