Sparrmannia africana

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Botanical Name
Sparrmannia africana
Malvaceae - The hibiscus and cotton family.
spar-MAN-ee-uh af-ri-KAHN-uh
Common Name(s)
English: Stock Rose; African Hemp; African Linden
Afrikaans: Stokroos
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
  • Very large
    TreeOver 25m
    ShrubOver 4m
    Perennial/ground coverOver 1m
    BulbOver 1.2m
    Succulent1.5m to 2m
  • Large
    Tree18m to 25m
    Shrub3m to 4m
    Perennial/ground cover75cm to 1m
    Bulb80cm to 1.2m
    Succulent1m to 1.5m
  • 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: Low The plant is unable to survive drought and needs to be watered.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Frost: Half-hardy The plant is able to survive low temperatures and some frost but requires protection against severe frost.
  • Frost: Tender A plant that will not survive any frost or low winter temperatures.
  • Roots Non-invasive Safe to plant near pools, paving, walls or buildings.
  • 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

Sparrmannia africana is a large, often multi-stemmed shrub which may grow or be shaped into a small tree. It forms a rounded, compact shape. The very large, bright green, heart-shaped leaves are softly textured and hairy. The hairs from the leaves can cause irritation and a rash.

The flowers resemble those of a rambling rose. The flower has a trigger mechanism for actively pressing pollen onto visiting insects and it is quite fascinating to watch the stamens visibly move when gently touched.

Sparmannia africana is commonly grown in Europe and the USA as a house plant.

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four rose-like petals surrounding a cluster of bright yellow stamens tipped with purple-red anthers

  • Spring to Summer 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
  • Very 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.
  • 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 smaller gardens Such plants do not have invasive root systems, remain small or controllable and can often be grown in containers.
  • Water Features These plants may have dramatic, lush foliage or graceful form. They do not shed excessive leaves and do not have invasive root systems.
  • 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

 in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, from Knysna to Port Elizabeth, on rocky hillsides and margins of evergreen forests

Planting Suggestions

Sparrmannia africana grows in most soils but the addition of compost  at planting will greatly speed up growth. In inland gardens it is best planted with some shade and protection from midday sun and winter frost. If cut down by frost it usually recovers rapidly. Water well and regularly for the first year and moderately thereafter. Supply a yearly dressing of  compost and keep well mulched. The plant tolerates pruning to shape and this should be done after flowering and seeding, but before winter sets in. Yellowing leaves indicate heat and a lack of water. Good air circulation around the plant will help to prevent the development of diseases and fungi that thrive in overly humid conditions but the shrub will not tolerate very strong or dry wind.

If grown indoors, Sparmannia will need bright light and yearly re-potting in early spring, using a well-drained potting mix.

Lorraine's Garden Notes

I have had my Sparmannia for almost three years but it had a rather stunted youth in a bag and almost expired a few times.  Where to plant it on my ever-windy hilltop, out of reach of Berg winds and blazing sun, but close enough for ease of watering? After much trial and error I planted it in an open shade-house under 80% shade netting where it is a least protected from the worst of the wind. It has grown very fast since then but this position is not ideal, as the plant receives insufficient sunlight.

Medicinal Uses

During the late 1800's the fibre from this species was produced commercially but was found to be of inferior quality.

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I have 3 of these growing in my garden. Tolerate all but the deepest darkest shade. One of mine is growing about 1 metre away from a Brazilian Pepper tree. they are fast growing. they flower in the second half of winter from about July. I cut mine back hard to about 1 metre high in spring to contain their height to about 2 metres, and to encourage bushiness otherwise they have a tendency to get leggy. foliage is large leaved and lighter green so the mix well with dark strap leaved Clivia, which need complete shade. This shrub will grow in sun but actually does better in shade, so it also good for those spots which might get full blast of the afternoon summer sun, but nothing in winter.

Hi Lucy

Thanks for your information. Between Berg wind and howling gales, I have not had much luck with Sparmannia and am now growing it in an enclosure covered with 80% shade netting. It is growing well now but will need regular trimming as you suggest. It would be nice to know where you live as the plant is obviously happy in your part of the country.


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