Melianthus major – Honey Bush

This is an impressive South African perennial which is known as the honey bush due to the profusion of nectar produced by its flowers.  These flowers are produced on tall spikes of reddish brown from which a violet dye can be extracted.  In the wild these spectacular blooms are pollinated by birds and the plants’ strong stems ensure they have a secure footing on which to stand and sup the delicious nectar.  This is all of no consequence to us as this particular plant is as yet to flower.  In milder climes it is evergreen and can reach a statuesque 2m high.  With us it gets cut back by the frost and we prune it to the ground in spring, it managed to claw back to about 1m this year.  When crushed the grey-green glaucous leaves have a scent variously described as not unpleasant, noxious or like peanut butter.  To avoid the risk of offending anybody with a more refined sense of smell than myself, basically most people and more specifically, Hero it is placed safely towards the rear of the Road Bank.  The size of this plant ensures that it can still be appreciated for its foliar beauty and is positioned well out of smelling range.  The leaves alone are attractive enough to earn the plant a place in any garden.


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