white to mauve; September to February; spring summer
sun; rockery; semi-shade; container; wildlife butterflies; paving; slope bank; walls; clay soils;
grassland; coastal eastern cape; coastal kzn; bushveld
subtropical east coast; thicket; highveld; bushveld savanna
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Ocimum obovatum subsp. obovatum (Cat’s Whiskers), a fast-growing, evergreen plant with beautiful mauve/white flowers that attract butterflies to pollinate the flowers. This beautiful plant, like the rest of the grassland species, is drought-tolerant, easy to grow and very rewarding. The Cat’s Whiskers forms an attractive flat carpet amongst the grasses, and can be grown in shade as well as sun. During winter, the leaves and branches of this small shrub/groundcover go into winter rest, but at the beginning of spring it is cut back, and the plant sprouts fresh growth again. A plant specialist suggests Becium obovatum is not available from nurseries, but a vaguely similar-looking weedy Ocimum sp. never seen in the wild, may be incorrectly sold in nurseries as Becium (Ocimum) obovatum. Provincial distribution Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West.