Greyia sutherlandii



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Botanical Name
Greyia sutherlandii
Family
Greyiaceae - The wild bottlebrush family.
Pronunciation
GRAY-yuh suth-er-LAN-dee-eye
Common Name(s)
English: Natal bottlebrush; Mountain Bottlebrush
Afrikaans: Natalse baakhout
IsiXhosa: umBere-bere; Usinga-lwamaxhegokazi
IsiZulu: isiDwadwa; inDalu; uBande
Plant Group
  • Tree A woody, self-supporting perennial plant usually with a single main stem and generally growing more than 6 meters tall.
Plant Size
  • Small
    Tree4m to 8m
    Shrub50cm to 75cm
    Perennial/ground cover10cm to 20cm
    Bulb20cm to 30cm
    Succulent10cm to 20cm
Position
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Deciduous Plants which completely lose their foliage for part of the year.
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate The plant is moderately adapted to arid conditions and can survive short periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Frost: Half-hardy The plant is able to survive low temperatures and some frost but requires protection against severe frost.
  • Water Moderate These plants will need some extra watering compared to water-wise plants. Plant them together, in at least some shade and in a convenient proximity to the house so that grey water can be utilised during times of drought.
Specific Information

When Greyia sutherlandii flowers at the end of winter it makes a startling splash of vibrant colour in a landscape that has not yet lost the drab colours of winter. The huge bottle-brush shaped heads of bright red satiny flowers lure nectar eating birds, bees and other insects. While young trees are compact, older trees spread out with attractive branches and rough bark and are unlikely to reach more than three meters tall in a garden. The leaves are quite large and bright green while young, darkening with age. Reportedly it does not flower well close to the sea, but in my garden, 11 km from the coast, it produces a splendid show. The leaves turn red in late autumn but the specimens in my garden all succumb to severe attacks of rust, turning the leaves black and unattractive during the summer months. Where it is possible to grow this tree in the garden or in a container, it is really worth the while.

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Flowers
Description

large, glossy bottle-brush flowers

Season
  • Winter to Spring Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
Colour
  • red
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.
  • Attracts Birds This plant will attract birds.
  • Boundary A plant useful for planting around the edges of the property to form a green or colourful backdrop, an impenetrable hedge, to hide walls or create privacy.
  • Container Trees, shrubs and ornamental species that can adapt to growing in a restricted environment.
  • Cut Flowers Plants that provide flowers suitable for ornamental uses.
  • Provides light / dappled shade A tree with an open to sparse canopy, through which varying degrees of sunlight can penetrate.
  • Suitable for smaller gardens Such plants do not have invasive root systems, remain small or controllable and can often be grown in containers.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

on slopes and rocky ridges of the Drakensberg, in the Eastern Cape, the eastern Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland and eastern Gauteng

Planting Suggestions

Plant in well-drained soil with good aeration. I have found this species prone to rust in our area. This does not prevent spectacular flowering but rather ruins the leaves later in the summer.

The old method of digging a deep hole and filling it with soil and compost has resulted in many trees failing to thrive, dying, rotting at the base or worse still, falling over in later years due to poor root development.  Refer to the following sites for the best method of planting trees:

Treehelp.com: Planting a tree

International Society of Arboriculture: New Tree Planting

Tree People: Plant the right way

For those of you who have a clay problem try:

Rod's Garden: Planting in clay soil

Medicinal Uses

Some African tribes use the light, soft wood of the Natal bottlebrush to make household utensils.

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Comments

Good afternoon ,please could you let me know if Greyia sutherlandii only flowers after a certain age or if i'm doing something wrong .. i have two plants about 2.5 years of age in pots and they are really heathly leaves look good etc ,but they have not even attempted flowering, please advise
Ta and thank you
Lee

Hi Lee

I don't think you are doing anything wrong but your expectations may be a bit high. Very few trees will flower as young as this, and although I have no firm statistics, it seems that most trees do not begin to flower before about 4 years - some only flowering after 8 or more years. Unfortunately there is very little information available about the age at which various species begin to flower.

I had a few 4 - 5 year old Greyia sutherlandii in bags but they showed no sign of flowering, possibly because they were bagged. If the plants are healthy and the containers fairly large, your plants should flower in two or three years time.

Regards
Lorraine

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