Freylinia densiflora Benth.
Common names: Langeberg bell-bush, common bell-bush (Eng.); Langebergseklokkiesbos (Afr.)
Blue-green foliage and subtly coloured flowers are attractive features of this widespread bell-bush.
Freylinia densiflora is a very attractive, erect, branched, evergreen, woody shrub that grows to a height of 2-3 m. The blue-green foliage adds to the appeal of the plant. The leaf shape and habit varies in this species according to the availability of moisture in its habitat. The beautiful, tubular, bell-shaped, light mauve to pink and creamy white flowers are borne in dense clusters at the branch tips. It flowers from mid-winter into spring (June to September).
Least Concern (LC). Freylinia densiflora is not threatened.
Distribution and habitat
Freylinia densiflora is the most widespread of the Cape species. It occurs both in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces. Its distribution pattern ranges from the Montagu District in the west to Grahamstown in the east. This bell-bush grows in a wide variety of vegetation types ranging from fynbos, grassy fynbos, semi-arid renosterveld and succulent Karoo. The plant usually grows in rocky, exposed, mountain slopes.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Freylinia was named after Count L. de Freylino. The Count owned a famous garden in Buttigliera near Marengo in Italy in the early 19 th century. The species name densiflora refers to the densely arranged flowers. The genus Freylinia consists of nine other species of which F. tropica, F. undulata, F. visseri and F. lanceolata make beautiful garden plants.
Freylinia densiflora, like most of the other Freylinia species, are subject to occasional fires after which they resprout. This means the plant has a persistent rootstock that allows it to survive burning. The beautiful tubular flowers are also pollinated by sunbirds. The seed capsules ripen from late spring to early summer and split open, releasing flat, winged seeds, which are dispersed by wind.
Growing Freylinia densiflora
Freylinia densiflora is grown easily from seeds and cuttings. Seed should be sown in spring or early summer using a well-drained soil mixture. The seed will germinate within three weeks. Soft to semi-mature, short stem cuttings can be taken in autumn, spring or summer. These cuttings can be treated with a rooting hormone to help stimulate rooting. These cuttings will root within a month. Once the cuttings have rooted, place them in a slightly shaded area to harden off for three weeks before potting. Pot the rooted plants in a sandy soil mix and placed under a shade net until ready for planting.
This bell-bush is an ideal plant for any fynbos garden, especially in semi-arid regions; otherwise give it a warm sunny spot in your garden. The plant grows very tall and vigorously so it can be planted as a screen to hide any structures or walls and can also be planted at the back of a bed with smaller shrubs and herbaceous perennials in front of it. It grows in full sun and is fairly water-wise. Regular pruning will keep the shrub nice and tidy.
- 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.
- Hyam, R. & Pankhurst, R. 1995. Plants and their names: a concise Dictionary. Oxford University Press Inc., New York.
- Van Jaarsveld, E. 1995. Freylinia densiflora. Flowering Plants of Africa 54: 68-72. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
- Van Jaarsveld, E. & Raimondo, D. 2005. Freylinia densiflora Benth. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2016/03/15
Plant Type: Shrub
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape, Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy, Loam
Flowering season: Spring, Winter
PH: Acid, Neutral
Flower colour: White, Cream, Mauve/Lilac
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Average