Shrub small; Shrub medium
1 - 2 m
Pale to dark pink; mauve; autumn
shade; dry shade; light shade; shrubbery; screen; wildlife insects butterflies butterfly host; narrow spaces; fast-growing easy-care
woodland forest; coastal eastern cape; grassland; bushveld; fynbos
subtropical east coast; thicket; bushveld savanna; western cape
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I consider the Forest Spurflower to be the most attractive of the medium size shrubs. The species name, ‘fruticosus’, refers to its’ shrubby growth habit, and this was the first of the family to be named and looking closely at it, the little spur at the base of the corolla can be seen. The shrubby growth is upright, with large leaves so typical of the family with purple below, toothed margins and a strong midrib. P. fruticosus comes in a range of sizes and colour forms, from pale and dark pink to mauve, and are up to 200 – 280 mm long. Stems branch into 3 inflorescences. The natural distribution of this species is from the Western Cape to the Limpopo province, in most of the moist warm forest areas. It enjoys the forest margins where the light levels are higher, but where the soils are still rich in humus. While it is thus found in both the summer and winter rainfall regions, the distribution range still covers the higher rainfall and frost free areas of each region. In describing his find in his book published in 1838, J. Loudon wrote that it was one of the first greenhouse plants in Europe, to be found in the conservatories in France before the revolution! Of course, here it was growing amongst old orange trees, olives and oleanders, not quite the inhabitants of our warm moist forests! There are now 5 cultivars of this species that have been discovered: ‘Behr’s Pride’ have dark purple undersides with deep pink flowers. ‘Ellaphie’ has mauve flowers, again with dark purple below the leaf ‘James’ is a smaller shrub of about 1.5m with lovely soft pink flowers and is one of the only shrubs to cope with sun. this is from the Barberton region and has softer leaves without the purple undersides.