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Plant Collections

Southern Africa Collection

The Southern African Collection contains a sample of a variety of plant types including: bulbs, succulents, Cycads, large and small shrubs and herbaceous plants many of which are readily available in the nursery industry and ideal for use in the average home garden

Southern Africa’s climate is not dissimilar to ours which makes the cultivation of their flora satisfying in Melbourne’s climate. With its seven climatic regions, Forest, Fyntos, Grasslands, Nana Karoo, Savanna, Succulent Karoo, Thicket and Desert it has a broad range of plants that are both adaptable and water wise.


Best Viewed

  • Spring, Summer

Grow

Clivia miniata Bush Lily

Clump forming perennial with dark green, strap shaped leaves. The flowering heads of brilliant orange flowers appear mainly in spring August to November. Grows well in dry shade.

Haemanthus coccineus Blood Flower

Bulb. Scarlet flowers from February to April occur before foliage appears. Leaves die off from October when the plants go summer dormant.

Cotyledon orbiculata

Succulent plant, thick leaves which may vary from green to grey, often with a red line around the margin. Flowers in winter from June to August, but in the winter rainfall areas such as the Western Cape, it is often in midsummer. The colorful, hanging, tubular to bell-shaped flowers are carried in clusters on the ends of an elongated flower stalk. They are mostly orange-red, but yellow-flowering forms are also occasionally found.


Plant Census

Find out what plants grow at Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne.


Key Plants

Erythrina acanthocarpa Tambuki-thorn

Attractive deciduous much branched thorny shrub to 2 m. Striking red and green flowers in spring before new leaves reappear.

Strelitzia reginae var. parvifolia

Perennial to 1.2 m. Narrow rod like leaves. Each flower is made up of three upright orange sepals and three highly modified vivid blue petals. Flowers in winter to spring.

Haemanthus coccineus Blood Flower

Bulb. Scarlet flowers from February to April occur before foliage appears. Leaves die off from October to go summer dormant.

Clivia miniata Bush Lily

Clump forming perennial with dark green, strap shaped leaves. The flowering heads of brilliant orange flowers appear mainly in spring August to November. Grows well in dry shade.

Hypoestes aristata

Evergreen shrub to 1 m. Mauve flowers in winter. Grows well in dry shade.

Cotyledon orbiculata

Succulent plant, thick leaves which may vary from green to grey, often with a red line around the margin. Flowers in winter from June-August, but in the winter rainfall areas, it is often in midsummer. The colorful, hanging, tubular/bell-shaped flowers are carried in clusters on the ends of an elongated flower stalk. They are mostly orange-red , but yellow flowering forms are also occasionally found.

Hibiscus calyphyllus

Dense perennial, rounded shrub; up to 3 m high; the leaves are large, up to 50 mm in diameter, light green, soft and velvety; the flowers are lemon-yellow, large, up to 100 mm in diameter, with a deep red to blackish centre; the fruit is a papery capsule that splits open to reveal hairy to hairless seeds. It is fairly fast growing and will flower repeatedly, the flowers lasting for a reasonable amount of time. Flowering time: all year round, but mainly from January to April.


Curator Notes

  1. Many Southern African plants are suitable for cultivation in Melbourne but care needs to be taken not to introduce weedy species.
  2. For the perfect dry shade planting with a stunning spring flowering try Clivia miniata or Clivia nobilis.

History

  • 1800s - Late 1800s An African theme was established.
  • 1900 (circa) - Several Cape species were planted by William Guilfoyle.
  • Guilfoyle intended a bulb collection under the shade of four or five species ofErythrina. It is not known if these bulbs were of southern African origin or not.
  • 1980s - A specifically southern African theme was established to show interesting examples of Southern African flora. Few of Guilfoyle’s' cape plantings have survived.
  • The Southern African Collection is gradually being redeveloped with the selected removal of non-southern African plants to make way for more appropriate plant selections.