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Lessertia frutescens


Water Needs

low; moderate

Lessertia frutescens
Shrub small
Cancer Bush; Scarlet Balloon Pea

1 - 1,5 x 1 m


Light Conditions



moderate; hardy


Scarlet; September to December; spring summer

Garden Situation

sun; rockery & gravel; windy exposed; slope bank; sandy soils; wildlife sunbirds insects bees butterfly host; narrow spaces;


fynbos; coastal eastern cape; coastal kzn; grassland; hot dry; urban streets


thicket; subtropical east coast; highveld; western cape; karoo

Rain Season


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The Cancer Bush (though I do prefer to use Scarlet Balloon Pea) is a beautiful shrub of eye-catching contrasts; orange to bright red flowers and silver-green foliage.  A single shrub has a fairly loose structure so if a fuller screen is required, plant a few close together. Flowers cover the bush from September to December attracting sunbirds to the garden. Bladder-like, papery inflated seed pods following the flowers, keeping wildlife visiting for an extended period.  The Cancer Bush is a short-lived shrub but seeds itself easily and grows fast, so new seedlings will readily fill the space when the mature plant dies. Unfussy and easy to cultivate, the Cancer Bush thrives in both summer and winter rainfall regions. It is a useful plant to rapidly screen or fill a gap while the slow-growing, permanent shrubs mature. 

Lessertia frutescens
Lessertia frutescens
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