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Friday, June 27, 2014

Desert Rose (Hermannia grandiflora)

 Family Malvaceae
Description
Hermannia grandiflora is a mounding/spreading, perennial shrub, up to about 1 m high. The stems and branches are stiff and twiggy, giving it a rather open, sparse habit. The leaves are oblong-cuneate, glabrous (non-hairy), toothed, olive green, and 5–15 mm long. During particularly dry weather in summer, it sheds its leaves and goes into a state of dormancy until the next rains, after which the leaves soon re-appear. The flowers are a striking bright salmon-red to pink and pendulus (hanging), just like all other hermannias with the opening of the flower facing downwards. Each flower has five petals which overlap one another and flare at the opening to form the shape of a trumpet. There are two flowers per inflorescence which appear at every node on terminal branch tips and are resinous/sticky to the touch at the base. The flowers have a sweet fragrance. The fruits are small, cylindrical, oblong capsules without horns, ± 3–6 mm long, which dry to release tiny, hard brown seeds the size of coarse sand.


 Hermannia grandiflora is closely allied to a number of other visually similar Hermannia species namely : H. stricta, H. burchellii, H. fruticulosa and H. longipetala (manuscript name), all with a similar bushy habit and reddish pink flowers (see distribution map for clarification).

This striking species is as yet unknown in horticulture despite its alluring name, and is really worth growing as a pot plant, or in the garden or rock garden. When viewed from a distance, it gives the impression of being ablaze with a dazzling flush of bright reddish pink flowers. Although the flowers do not last long, the desert rose will provide a spectacular spring/summer show and is ideally suited to water-wise gardens.
Distribution and habitat
This plant is naturally found on stony clay soils in the summer rainfall regions of the Western, Northern and Eastern Cape, mainly north of the Swartberg and into the south and central Great Karoo, from 300 to 1 400 m.

Ecology
It is suspected that Hermannia grandiflora is pollinated by bees primarily. It is a very palatable species and is thus heavily grazed when livestock have access to it!

Uses and cultural aspects
It is not known to have any cultural or medicinal uses.

Info: http://www.plantzafrica.com