Flowering now: Tetradenia riparia
Common Names: Misty Plume Bush, Ginger Bush (English); Gemmerbos, Watersalie (Afrikaans); iboza, ibozane (Zulu)
Family: LAMIACEAE (Mint family)
Tetradenia – having four glands
riparia – growing on banks of rivers
Tetradenia riparia is a useful plant in that it flowers in winter when there is little colour in the garden. The stems are slightly succulent and the aromatic leaves are heart shaped and bright green in colour, making a pleasing background plant during spring and summer. The leaves turn yellow and fall in autumn, prior to flowering. The Ginger Bush is fast growing and will flower in its first year. The flowers of the male plant are more compact than those of the female plant.
Plant in light, well drained and well composted soil. Mulch well. Tetradenia needs water in summer but not as much in winter. Plant in full sun, except in very hot areas where some shade will be beneficial. Pruning can be done after flowering. Pinch back the growing shoots in spring and summer to encourage branching.
The ginger bush is best propagated from cuttings, even quite large truncheons can be successful. They should be rooted in river sand and monitored for any signs of rotting, as they are slightly succulent. Seed may be difficult to obtain if your garden has only male or female plants in it.
The flowering stems do well in water for flower arranging.
The ginger bush is associated with a moth (Trichoplusia molybdina) of the predominately night-flying Noctuid family, but the flowers also attract other insects which are necessary to bring insect-feeding birds into your garden.
Distribution: KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Province and Mpumalanga in South Africa, as well as Swaziland, Namibia, and Angola, then northwards through tropical east Africa into Ethiopia, along river banks, on forest margins, in dry valleys and on hillsides, where there is little frost
Medicinal uses: The plant is used for the relief of chest complaints, stomach ache and malaria. Inhaling the scent of the crushed leaves is said to relieve headaches.