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Sutherlandia frutescens

   (Family: Fabaceae)
Afrikaans: kankerbos, blaasbossie, hoenderbelletji, eendjies, gansiekeurtjie, klappers English: Sutherlandia, cancer bush, balloon pea Xhosa: umnwele  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Height: 0.5 - 1m
Special properties:
  Drought Resistant (heavy)
  Frost Tolerant (light)
  Has Medicinal Uses
Rarity Status:
Preferred rainfall: Winter
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Tolerated soil:  
pH: neutral
Flowering time EDIT
                x x x x
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
  Flower info
  Leaf info EDIT
Sow seeds in Spring
Seed colour
  Seed info EDIT
  Planting should be done in spring or autumn.
Description EDIT
It is a shrub with bitter, aromatic leaves, Cancer bush is a hardy perennial shrub. It can grow up to 3 m tall and it is an attractive garden plant. Cancer bush originates in Southern Africa.
Growing EDIT
Cancer bush plants are propagated from seed and cuttings, although cuttings are difficult to grow.

Cancer bush grows almost everywhere, however, it prefers full sun, well-drained soils and a location receiving substantial moisture. The optimum day temperature should be about 25 o C. It prefers a soil pH of 7,6 to 8,1 and is susceptible to winter freezing (frost).
The soil mixture should contain two parts sand and one part compost.

The seeds should receive moderate irrigation, e.g. every second day for a week before it is reduced gradually until establishment of the plant.
Distribution EDIT
widely in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. In South Africa, the plant is found in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Western Cape and Mpumalanga provinces.
History EDIT
Cancer bush is used as an immune booster in the treat ment of HIV/Aids, as a medicine in the treatment of chicken pox, internal cancers, colds, flu, asthma, TB, bronchitis, rheumatism, rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, liver problems, haemorrhoids, piles, bladder and uterus problems, women’s complaints, diarrhoea, dysentery, stomach ailments, heartburn, peptic ulcers, backache, diabetes, varicose veins and inflammation. It is also used in the treatment of mental and emotional stress, including irritability, anxiety and depression and it could aid digestion and improve the appetite.
Ecology EDIT
Sunbirds pollinate the attractive, butterfly-like red flowers. The lightweight, papery, inflated pods enable the seed to be dispersed easily by wind. Stock browse the foliage.

Ecologically legumes are well known for fixing nitrogen in the soil through a symbiotic relationship with bacteria. The bacteria infect the roots, forming small growths or nodules. Inside the nodules, atmospheric nitrogen, which the plants cannot use, is converted to ammonia, which plants can use.

The plant supplies sugars for the bacteria, while the bacteria provide the biologically useful nitrogen that the plant absorbs.
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