The beauty of the Natal Bottlebrush

2008-05-22 00:00

Greyia sutherlandii commonly know as the Natal Bottlebrush is a very popular tree for your garden. It’s a small, craggy tree that branches low down, it is fast growing and can reach a height of three metres.

The Natal Bottlebrush can easily be confused with Greyia radlkoferi (Woolly Bottlebrush), which looks similar except that the leaves have thick velvety, white hairs on the under surface.

The trunk tends to be twisted and furrowed, the bark is rough and shaggy. The leaves of the Natal Bottlebrush are large and attractive. The rich green of summer turns yellow and red and spotted with black in the autumn.

In spring the Greyia is covered in large red bottlebrush flowers that produce copious nectar which attracts sunbirds, sugarbirds and many insects.

Greyia can be propagated by seed as well as cuttings. Sow seed in March and keep moist and in a warm place.

The Natal Bottlebrush is an ideal tree where the climate is temperate to cool and in areas where the rainfall is moderate to high.

It struggles in the hot summers and the flower rate is reduced in the warmer coastal areas.

It is fairly sensitive to frost, despite occurring naturally in very cold areas.

Greyia occurs naturally on steep north-facing slopes on the Drakensberg, Eastern Cape, Swaziland and KwaZulu-Natal. The Natal Bottlebrush has pale, pink wood which is light and soft. It has been used for carvings and making dishes.

A traditional remedy made from root infusions is used to induce vomiting and treat nausea.

The Natal Bottlebrush is also suitable to grow as a bonsai tree.

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