Perennial; Water plant
60 cm – 1 m; flower stalk up to 2.5 m.
bright golden yellow; September – December; spring; summer
damp sun; water; damp soil; wildlife bees insects
water; fynbos; coastal Eastern Cape
Western Cape; thicket
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Clumps of golden flower spikes form a striking focal point in a garden wetland or around the wildlife pond. Rhizomes are distinctively red in colour, hinted at in the Afrikaans common name, and buds grow from this underground. Flowering panicles stand up to 2.5 m high with masses of golden yellow flowers in dense clusters along the length of a cylindrical stem. Sword-shaped leaves (1 – 2 m high) are broad at the base and taper to a sharp point, pleated along their length. Fruits follow, each capsule containing 3 tiny hard black seeds, each one covered in coarse hairs; these are light enough to float on water. Botanists are unsure of the pollinating animal, but the nectar and pollen-rich flowers attract bees, honeybees, flies, beetles and other insects. In the garden: position plants in continuously damp soils, around an often-used garden tap, for example, or a man-made wetland lined with plastic. Plants will also grow in normal beds, but require ample water, especially in winter and spring, and plants should not dry out during summer. Combine with other wet-area plants in flower through spring and summer; try blue and pink Aristea capitate, maroon Melianthus major, or any of the restios. Plant roots either in water or at the water’s edge. Plants multiply easily and quickly in ideal conditions. Plants grow in permanent marshes, seepages and streams in the Western and Eastern Cape.