Jamesbrittenia kraussiana (Bernh.) Hilliard
Common names: kerriebos (Afr); usikisiki lwehlathi (Zul.)
An attractive herbaceous perennial with lush green foliage and white flowers occurring throughout the year, suitable for planting in full sun in small garden beds.
Jamesbrittenia kraussiana is a slender perennial herb, growing up to 150 to 600 mm high. The leaves are simple, ovate, 15–45 × 3–20 mm, with irregularly toothed margins and slightly hairy surfaces, prominent net vernation and a short petiole. Flowers are zygomorphic (having floral parts of unequal size so that the flower is capable of division into essentially symmetrical halves by only one longitudinal plane passing through the axis), ± 8 mm in diameter, with 5 petals and 5 sepals, usually white, or pale lilac, with a yellow centre, occurring in loose, leafy inflorescences on a slender stalk about 25 mm long, flowering abundantly throughput the year.
Jamesbrittenia kraussiana is not threatened. This species has not been selected to be of conservation concern; therefore, it is Red Listed as Least Concern (LC).
Distribution and habitat
Jamesbrittenia kraussiana is found in thicket grassland and in forest margins. It is distributed along the subtropical coast, in frost-free areas, in loam soils with silica grit, from the Mngazana Estuary in the Eastern Cape, spreading through KwaZulu-Natal to Kosi Bay in the north. This species is a full sun to partial shade-loving, small shrublet that is naturally adapted to summer rainfall regions, with summer temperatures ranging from 23 to 33ºC (between September and April) and an annual rainfall of about 610 mm. It can also be cultivated in winter rainfall areas, in gardens as filler in between other plants and also a great edging plant in your garden.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
In the world, the family Scrophulariaceae consists of 269 genera and 5 100 species, and in southern Africa there are 66 genera with 900 species (Koekemoer, Steyn & Bester 2013). Well known southern African genera include: Diascia, Freylinia, Halleria, Hebenstretia, Jamesbrittenia, Zaluzianskya and Nemesia. The family has recently undergone some drastic changes in its classification, many northern hemisphere genera with 2-lipped flowers, previously considered to belong to this family, such as Digitalis, Antirrhinum and Penstemon are now classified in a separate family, together with the Plantago. The genus Jamesbrittenia consists of 83 species distributed mainly in tropical and southern Africa, with a single species that occurs in North Africa and eastwards to India.
The genus Jamesbrittenia is named after James Britten, 1846–1924, a British botanist. The species is named after the German scientist, traveler and collector, Christian Krauss, 1812–90, who was in South Africa in 1839-40.
There are no records of any specific pollinators for J. kraussiana but many genera in this family have hairs that produces oils to attract pollinators, such as oil-collecting bees; the female bees collect oil from the flowers to feed their larvae or sometimes to water proof their nests.
This species has been used in traditional medicine as a treatment for menstrual pains, by using the crushed leaves. This species is not common in the horticultural trade, but it has proven to be a winner at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden. This species can be planted in small flower beds as a filler and as border plants.
Growing Jamesbrittenia kraussiana
Jamesbrittenia kraussiana is best propagated and responds best when it is vegetatively propagated from tip and stem cuttings, preferably taken in summer (mid-October to mid-February), to allow better root growth. Use a root-stimulating hormone for soft cuttings; take cuttings from a healthy, disease-free, vigorous mother stock, preferably at the coolest time of the day (morning or afternoon), to prevent water loss during the process.
Prepare your propagation area by cleaning the surfaces and prepare your tools and equipment, such as secateurs, rooting hormone, seed tray and a propagation media mix of sifted fine bark, perlite and sand (2:1:1). Start by sterilizing your rooting medium mix and your cuttings with a sterilizing agent, add coarse bark at the bottom of the tray, to allow drainage. Take the cuttings below the node, each cutting about 6 to 7 cm long and remove the two-thirds of the bottom leaves to reduce loss of water through the leaves. Dip the cuttings in a rooting hormone; insert them in the rooting medium, and place the tray of cuttings in a warm area, about 20–25ºC with 80% relative humidity. Rooting should take place within 2 weeks. Harden off the rooted cuttings in a cool shaded area with a good flow of air.
Pot the rooted cuttings in 12 to 15 cm pots using a general potting mix of sifted bark and sand and compost (1:1:1). Place all the potted plants in semi-shade for 2 weeks and water well at least twice a week. Once the root system has developed fully, they are ready to be planted out into the garden. Choose a full sun to semi-shaded area and it is best to plant in the rainy season, autumn to winter time (May to August) in the Western Cape, to prevent excessive use of water. Prepare the soil in the garden by adding compost and organic fertilizer to encourage new growth, and mix and aerate the soil to encourage root establishment.
When grown in a controlled environment such as a glasshouse, it is susceptible to white fly, which can be combatted or controlled with the use of the yellow sticky trap, which they are attracted to.
- Koekemoer, M., Steyn, H.M. & Bester, S.P. 2015. Guide to Plant Families of southern Africa. Strelitzia 31. 2nd ed., 2nd print. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, South Africa.
- KwaZulu-Natal climate and weather. https://www.sa-venues.com/weather/kwazulunatal.php, accessed 26/02/2019.
- Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wild flowers Kwazulu-Natal and the eastern region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
- Raimondo, D. et al. 2009. Red list of South African plants. Strelitzia 25. SANBI (South African National Biodiversity Institute), Pretoria.
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Plant Type: Ground Cover, Perennial
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal
Soil type: Sandy, Loam
Flowering season: Sporadic/All year
Flower colour: White
Aspect: Full Sun, Morning Sun (Semi Shade), Afternoon Sun (Semi Shade)
Gardening skill: Average