Freylinia vlokii Van Jaarsv.
Common names: Rooiberg bell-bush, Karoo bell-bush (Eng.); Karoo klokkiesbos (Afr.)
Freylinia vlokii is a shrub bearing beautiful tubular mauve flowers and is an ideal plant for dry fynbos gardens.
Freylinia vlokii is an erect evergreen shrub that grows to a height of 3 m. It has small egg-shaped to lanceolate leaves covered with short hairs (pubescent) with straight margins, in contrast to the distinctly crisped and hairless (glabrous) leaves of Freylinia crispa. The corolla tube is mauve and glabrous at the throat and is slightly curved. A unique feature of this species is that the flower stalks (pedicels) and calyx lobes are covered in short hairs. This beautiful shrub flowers from mid-winter to spring (July-August).
Freylinia vlokii is Red Listed as Endangered (EN), and was previously listed as Rare. It is an extremely rare and localized species that is known from one site where there are fewer than 250 mature plants and although it is not facing any direct threats it is potentially threatened by the extraction of groundwater. A project to extract groundwater from this area was abandoned in 2001 but as the demand for water increases this decision could be reversed. Further, the population occurs on private land and is not formally protected.
Distribution and habitat
Freylinia vlokii occurs on the lower southern slopes of the Rooiberg, in the region of Ladismith, in succulent karoo on the farm Assegaaibos. Plants of this species are scattered on steep south-facing screes in acidic soil. F. densiflora, F.lanceolata and F. undulata are the only other species found in the Little Karoo region. This region receives 200-300 mm rain per year which falls during both winter and summer.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Freylinia was named after Count L. Freylino who owned a well known garden in Italy in the 19th century. Freylinia vlokii is named after Mr Jan Vlok of the Cape Department of Nature Conservation who collected this plant on the Rooiberg together with Mr Mike Viviers.
Freylinia vlokii, along with F.crispa, F. helmei and F. visseri, is pollinated by sunbirds. All the other species of the genus have shorter flowers with shorter tubes and are mainly insect-pollinated.
Growing Freylinia vlokii
Like all the other species of the genus, Freylinia vlokii can be grown from cuttings. This is, however, not as easy as with some of the other species. Semi-mature tip or heel cuttings can be taken in spring or early summer. It is best to make use of a rooting hormone to stimulate rooting which should take place within three to four weeks. Whenever the cuttings are rooted they should be placed in a dry area where they can be hardened off for two weeks. The cuttings should then be potted into a well drained soil mixture. As in the case of Freylinia helmei propagation from seed has not been tried yet.
Freylinia vlokii is an excellent water-wise garden plant. Because of its dry natural habitat it should be planted in a sunny dry part of a garden, in a well drained soil. It is essential that these plants dry out completely after irrigation before water is applied again. Plant combinations should therefore be carefully planted according to water requirements. Because of its growth height, this Freylinia should be planted near the back of a garden in full sun with smaller shrubs and ground covers in front of it. This species is a resprouter after fires and can also be pruned according to need.
Freylinia vlokii is also a good container plant and will respond well to regular feeding.
Hope everyone enjoys growing Freylinia vlokii.
- Van Jaarsveld, E & Thomas, V. 1995. Freylinia vlokii, Flowering Plants of Africa 54: 84-87, pl. 2117, National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
- Van Jaarsveld, E., Vlok, J.H. & Raimondo, D. 2007. Freylinia vlokii Van Jaarsv. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2015.1. Accessed on 2016/03/15
Conservation status updated in March 2016
Plant Type: Shrub
SA Distribution: Western Cape
Soil type: Sandy, Loam
Flowering season: Spring, Early Summer
PH: Acid, Neutral
Flower colour: Mauve/Lilac
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Average