Besembossie, River Stars
60 cm – 2.5 m
white; October – March; spring; summer; autumn
damp sun; water feature; wildlife insects birds
thicket; Highveld; subtropical East Coast; Karoo; bushveld savanna; Western Cape
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This rather sparse small to medium sized shrub (60 cm – 2.5 m ) occurs throughout the country, mostly on rocky streambeds from the coast inland to an altitude of 1980 m. Gorgeous silver-grey foliage tempts you to run your fingers through it; give in to the temptation for the leaves are soft and velvety. Leaves are tiny, some almost hairless leaves, while others are covered in soft silvery hairs and they grow along the length of the arching stems. Stems have a slightly weeping growth habit, leaning over to one side, and taper off towards the tip. Tiny clumps of pure white 4-petalled stars cover the tips of the branches from October/November through to March; petals surround tiny purple anthers. Flowers are softly scented to attract nocturnal moths. Plants flower best in full sun and mix well with other wetland or pond plants: try it with the Elegia or Juncus families, or the orange/yellow flowering Kniphofia species from your region. Position plants in the spray of a water feature, around dripping taps where soil is frequently, if not continuously, damp. Cut back at the end of winter to encourage bushy growth and flowering in the following season. Birds love the flexible branches to hold small nests.