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Barleria obtusa

   (Family: Acanthaceae)
   
Afrikaans: Bosviooltjie English: Bush Violet Zulu: i|Dololenkonyane  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Height: 1 - 2m
Special properties:
  Drought Resistant (light)
Rarity Status:
Common
   
Preferred rainfall: Summer
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Tolerated soil:  
  Sand (coarse texture, drains easily),
Clay (fine texture, holds a lot of water),
Loam (gritty, moist, and retains water easily)
pH:
 
Flowering time EDIT
      x x              
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
 
Purple
 
  Flower info
  The 2-3cm wide tubular flower petals are borne on the top part of the branch. A closer look at the individual flower will reveal the style and only two stamens with violet coloured pollen.
 
 
Leaf margin
Leaf arrangement
 
  Leaf info EDIT
  Evergreen
  The soft, sage green leaves are oppositely placed and have entire margins with fine translucent hairs. A characteristic feature is that the leaves are reflexed (the margins are upturned).
 
 
Fruit type EDIT
 
  Seed info EDIT
  The seed capsule becomes woody when mature, and then the seeds are explosively released and scattered on the ground.
 
 
Description EDIT
An evergreen flowering shrublet with masses of dainty violet flowers from April to May.
The size of the plant varies when planted in different growing environments. From about one metre as a low bushy plant in the open, whilst shady conditions encourage long sprawling branches which reach a height of two metres.
Growing EDIT
Easily propagated from seeds, cuttings and layering. The seeds must be collected before the seeds are dispersed, when the seed capsules turn brown in color. The flat seeds are sown in seed trays in a well- drained medium. Cover the seeds with sifted soil or sand. Keep trays in a shaded area.

Semi-soft wood cuttings can be taken during the summer from new growth. Dip the base of tip or stem cuttings into Serradix No. 2 hormone powder to stimulate fast root development. Successful results can be expected in four weeks.

Layering is also an easy method of multiplying this plant. Choose a long branch which has not flowered. In autumn prepare the soil, by filling a small hole with coarse sand. Bend the branch and remove the leaves of the area that touches the soil. Score the underside of the naked stem to injure the tissue. Peg the bent branch into the hole and cover it with soil and coarse sand. Stake the tip and keep the spot moist until rooted.

Grows very well in full sun and semi- shaded conditions.
Can grow in a wide range of soils.
Although it is a summer rainfall subject, it thrives in the winter rainfall, W. Cape area but requires well drained soil conditions. Lots of compost added to the soil will give plants a good boost.

The bush violet also shows good drought resistant properties, however, for excellent growth, regular watering is encouraged.

Regular pruning is necessary after the shrub has flowered, for neat and compact growth. To encourage more flowers, nip off the shoots during spring and early summer.
Distribution EDIT
Occurs naturally from the Soutpansberg in the Northern Province, Mpumalanga, and KwaZulu Natal and further to the Eastern Cape Province. It grows quite commonly on hills and along forest margins in subtropical regions.
History EDIT
Uses EDIT
This fast growing, spreading shrublet is a must for rockeries and small gardens.

In tropical Africa, the leaves are cooked as a vegetable, and the plant is used medicinally.

Its flowers produce nectar to attract butterflies and it is also a larval host plant to 3 Junonia species(Yellow Pansy, Brown Pansy and Blue Pansy).
Ecology EDIT
In its natural habit the leaves of the bush violet are browsed by buck.
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References

 
  • Grubben, G.J.H. & Denton, O.A. (2004) Plant Resources of Tropical Africa 2. Vegetables. PROTA Foundation, Wageningen; Backhuys, Leiden; CTA, Wageningen.  
 
 

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