Plant of the Month – February 2016


(Correa reflexa)

APII jpeg image of Correa reflexa var. speciosa © contact APII

(Photo: from

‘Correa’ comes from the name of a Portugese botanist of the 1700s, but maybe ‘variable correa’ would be a good name for this one: very erect, or semi-prostrate; dense or open in habit; leaves narrow or round, hairy or almost smooth, with flat or curled-back edges (hence reflexa)! Enough options??? It is still fairly easily identified though, by its pendulous, bell-shaped flowers which have two small leaves sitting along the top of the bells. The flowers themselves are a bit woolly, with tips that are turned back a little.  You should be able to spot yellow anthers on the 8 stamens sticking out from the red and yellow/green flowers. A group of 3-5 of these correas would look good in your coastal garden. They like light sandy soils with good drainage, with sun or shade. Protect them from the wind, and they will reward you with many lovely flowers from May to November.

Weed of the Month – February 2016


(Centranthus ruber ssp ruber)

valerian1valerian2(Photos: E. Cousins; plant in flower, and flower cluster; Cape Jervis)

This prolifically-flowering, showy perennial is native to southern Europe. However it is now a common environmental weed in SA, invading dry coastal areas, wastelands, roadsides, etc., equally. It is easily spotted with those profuse heads of dull purplish-red flowers in spring! Individual flowers are tiny at 2mm, but occur in large clusters, or inflorescences, as in the photo. The flowers attract insects such as bees and butterflies, and have a fairly strong (not necessarily pleasant) smell.  The 5-8cm long leaves along the tall stems sit opposite each other; these have a short stem (petiole) while those at ground level have none. Often confused with Valeriana officinalis, which has healing properties, this plant has no medicinal value. Leaves and roots can be eaten (no promises made that it’ll be tasty though!!).