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List of South African Plants

river in Africa rock desert image by Thor from

South Africa is home to over 22,000 different species of plants that are ordered into 2,180 genuses of 227 plant families. South Africa has an incredible diversity in plant life for a country of 463,000 square miles. South Africa’s climates range from coastal to forests to grasslands and savannas. That range of climates helps contribute to the wide range of plant life in South Africa.

Jade Trees

Jades are tropical succulents that originated in South Africa. Jades originally came from drier areas of the country where their habit of storing water in their trunks, branches and leaves allows for periods of less natural precipitation. Although jades are kept as houseplants in the U.S., with jade bonsai becoming popular in recent years, they can grow as tall as 10 feet tall in nature. Jades are cultivated very easily from cuttings, including single leaves.

Helder Kruipvygie

Helder kruipvygie is the common name for Jordaaniella dubia. The helder kruipvygie is a creeping, low succulent that grows in coastal areas of South Africa. Depending on the variety, some grow large, white, daisy-like flowers while others grow yellow flowers that look much like chrysanthemums. Helder kruipvygie are easily cultivated either from seed or from cuttings. Because of the unique climate of the South African coast, helder kruipvygie is best grown from seed as a greenhouse or indoor plant specimen in North America.

Wild Olives

Wild olives are the common name for a unique African olive cultivar called Olea africana. Wild olives grow to as tall as 30 feet with a spread as wide as 40 feet. These trees grow in rocky soils on hillsides, near streams and in woodlands. Olives growing in woodlands can grow as tall as 40 feet. Wild olive fruits are popular with people, monkeys, baboons, mongoose, bushpigs, warthogs and birds. Wild South African olives are moderately frost hardy, so they may grow well in warmer parts of North America where other types of olives grow.

Carrion Flowers

Carrion flowers are unusual flowers of the genus Orbea. Carrion flowers do not grow in North America. These flowers have a unique way of reproducing. They emit a stench like rotting flesh to attract flies. As those flies circle the flowers looking for rotting flesh for food, they take up pollen from the flower and transfer it to other flowers. Flowers of this unusual plant range from 1/2 inch to 4 inches in diameter. The carrion flower is a succulent that goes dormant during part of the year. Carrion flowers are grown only under controlled conditions in North America and are usually kept as specimen flowers.

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