This spiny, evergreen, rambling shrub grows fairly fast, up to 1 m, with a rounded shape; it produces small, shiny green leaves and yellow tubular flowers from December to March. The four upper lobes of the flower separate from the lower lobe to form an open tube from which 2 stamens and the style protrude. The fruit is a small exploding capsule.
Distribution and habitat
Barleria rotundifolia is found in the summer rainfall area of the Lowveld region situated in the eastern parts of South Africa where it grows in well-drained soils throughout rocky hilltops (koppies) and hillsides in full sun to semi-shade and is able to withstand a moderate amount of frost. Rainfall ranges from 500-750 mm per annum with temperatures rising to 30°C.
Barleria rotundifolia is pollinated by insects and attracts various species of butterflies. The insects attract insectivorous birds; therefore if you are a gardener that likes attracting life into your garden, this plant is a good choice.
This plant produces seed that is carried in a fruiting body in the form of a small capsule, which explodes when the seed is ripe. It also carries spines to protect itself from being over-grazed by animals.
Uses and cultural aspects
The horticultural value of the Barleria genus has been greatly underrated so far. It is now proving to be a very promising genus, containing many species that would be wonderful additions to any garden.