Duvernoia adhatodoides

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Botanical Name
Duvernoia adhatodoides
Acanthaceae - The acanthus family.
Common Name(s)
English: Pistol Bush
Pistoolbossie; Bastergeelhout
IsiZulu: iHlwalane
Plant Group
  • Shrub A woody plant of relatively low height, having several stems arising from the base and lacking a single trunk; a bush.
Plant Size
  • Medium to Large
    Tree15m to 20m
    Shrub2m to 3m
    Perennial/ground cover60cm to 75cm
    Bulb60cm to 1m
    Succulent60cm to 1m
  • Canopy Shade Canopy shade is found below closely grown trees where some light filters through. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Light or Dappled Shade Found below trees with sparse, open foliage. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate The plant is moderately adapted to arid conditions and can survive short periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Frost: Tender A plant that will not survive any frost or low winter temperatures.
  • Water Loving Plants need a regular supply of water and must not be allowed to dry out for any length of time.
Specific Information

Duvernoia adhatodoides is a fast growing attractive shrub or small tree with large glossy leaves against which the abundant densely packed spikes of white flowers with beautiful purple markings show up well. This shrub flowers young and the flowering period can last up to three months. The fruits are club shaped, mature in winter and split open with an explosive crack, scattering the seeds in all directions -  hence the name pistol bush. Duvernoia adhatodoides​ grows well in shade and is sensitive to extreme cold and hot winds. Plant the pistol bush in a sheltered spot if you are living in an unfavourable environment, bearing in mind that it comes from sub-tropical areas. The blooms are much favoured by carpenter bees.

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Showy, orchid-like, on loosely bunched heads.

  • Autumn to Winter Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • white
Growth Rate
  • Fast Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Accent or Focal Point A plant used to attract the attention because of its colour or form.
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Border A strip of ground, at the edge of a driveway or path in which ornamental plants or shrubs are planted.
  • Container Trees, shrubs and ornamental species that can adapt to growing in a restricted environment.
  • Filler Either a fast growing tree or shrub used temporarily to fill in an area while the permanent plants grow to a desired size, or a plant used to fill gaps in borders or beds.
  • Suitable for coastal gardens Plants adapted to dry, sandy soil, forceful wind, limited rainfall and intense sunlight.
  • Suitable for smaller gardens Such plants do not have invasive root systems, remain small or controllable and can often be grown in containers.
Distribution and Habitat

the northern part of the Eastern Cape to KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, under forest canopy, on forest margins and on rocky outcrops 

Planting Suggestions

Needs some shade, a sheltered position, well composted soil, rich feeding and plenty of water. Mulch to retain water. Water regularly for best results. Propagates easily from seeds or cuttings.

Medicinal Uses

No data found.

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I was looking for info on the pistol bush and bumped into your website. I absolutely adore it. I am an indigenous freak. Could you please send me your monthly newsletter.


Hi Johan

Welcome and I'm pleased that you like my website but I have just not got down to doing a newsletter. Most of my time is used to add plants which takes hours of research and I even neglect my blog! Thanks for the request, however, and I intend make the effort - not monthly but at least now and then.

Kind regards

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