Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Giant Honey Flower

This shrub shot up from seeds dropped by birds or in the compost used on Rosemary bush (visible to the left of the Melianthus major)

The above shrub is known as Melianthus major (Giant Honey Flower or Touch-me-not). Three years ago, I planted one plant and have since had many young shrubs shooting up all over the garden. One reason for this is that the birds love this plant and obviously distribute the seeds.

The other reason is that after the winter months have taken their toll on this shrub, I normally cut it right back. The cuttings then go on the compost heap which is subsequently spread on the garden again! Melianthus major is a fast-growing vigorous, invasive plant which may become a nuisance if not controlled. However, according to my Creative Gardening with Indigenous Plants, (Pitta Joffe), it should by rights not actually grow in my area at all. It is primarily a coastal plant. Therefore I consider myself singularly blessed to have this flambouyant shrub growing so profusely in my garden. I have given many young shrubs away and planted many out in different parts of my garden.

In mid-July I noticed that the one shrub just beyond my patio out back, had beautiful flowers on it. I also noticed that this plant was being visited by Orange River White-Eye, Red-Eyed Bulbuls, Red-faced mousebirds and Malachite- and White Bellied Sunbirds. I was thrilled to identify to latter bird at this time. It only visited my garden for a total of eight days and all that time it spent drinking the nectar from the Melianthus flower. This is the southern-most region for the White Bellied Sunbird to be, hence the excitement at having it in my garden.

The first Melianthus major planted alongside my large pond three years ago


  1. Hey there
    Thanks for an interesting post. It sounds something like our 'cocktail' tomatoe bushes that seem to emerge everywhere!

  2. Its a beauty and to have so many to attract all the birds. You are lucky.

  3. Nou gaan ek (hopelik!) Melianthus se naam onthou! - en jou foto's is pragtig!!

  4. Agressive plants are the only ones that make it in our garden full of critters! I would probably love the giant honey flower, but chances of surviving between the frequents visits of horses, goats and even dogs are minimal... I'm saving gardening for a later era in my life. :-)

  5. Beautiful plant. Nice that it attracts some beautiful birds, too.


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