Plants Native to Southern Africa

Southern Africa is a region of Africa defined by five countries: Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia, South Africa and Swaziland. Southern Africa's geography is varied and rich, ranging from savannas to desert, forest and grasslands. There are a number of plant species unique to Southern Africa that may be cultivated in home gardens across the globe.

Cape Leadwort

Cape leadwort (Plumbago auriculata), called "plumbago," is a flowering perennial shrub native to South Africa. The shrub rarely exceeds 3 feet, producing thin stems and clusters of true blue flowers that resemble garden phlox. The plant is grown as a perennial in USDA Hardiness Zones 8 to 11 and as an annual or houseplant in cooler climates. Cape leadwort works well as a late season summer and fall border or bedding plant. Cultivate Cape leadwort in a fertile, moist soil in a sunny location. Fertilize indoor plants frequently during the growing season and move them outdoors during the summer if possible. Spider mites and other small pests may become an issue for indoor plants.

Bitter Aloe

Bitter aloe (Aloe ferox), called "Cape aloe," is a perennial succulent species native to South Africa's Cape region. The plant is somewhat star shaped with flat, pointed succulent leaves that are toothed along the edges. Bitter aloe reaches an average height of about 3 feet and produces a tall stalk of orange flowers that grow up to 4 feet high. Bitter aloe is a desert plant that prefers full sunlight in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. The succulent may be grown as an indoor container plant in cooler climates. Plant bitter aloe in a well-draining, poor or infertile soil, and water infrequently.

Carrion Flower

The carrion flower (Stapelia spp.) is a desert succulent native to Southern Africa and can be found in abundance in South Africa's Cape region. The plant sports unremarkable coarse stems, which are accented by exotic fleshy flowers. Also nicknamed the "starfish flower," carrion flower produces waxy, star-shaped, foul-smell flowers in a range of colors. The unpleasant smell of the carrion flower attracts flies, the pollinators of the plant. Carrion flower may be grown outdoors in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11 or as a houseplant in cooler zones. The plant prefers almost all day sun with a little dappled shade. Water the plant occasionally during summer droughts, but do not over water, as this may cause root rot.

Keywords: Southern Africa, native plants, African plants

About this Author

Michelle Wishhart is a writer based out of Astoria, Ore. She has been writing professionally for five years, starting with her position as a staff arts writer for an alternative weekly paper in Santa Cruz. She has a B.A. in fine arts from the University of California in Santa Cruz and a minor in English literature.