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Plant Profile: Natal shell-flower

Natal shell-flower - Bowkeria gerrardianaBotanical name: Bowkeria gerrardiana (also known as Bowkeria verticillata)

Family: Scrophulariaceae

Type: Evergreen shrub

Size: Around 2-3m in height and 1.5m in spread

This South African native is an attractive addition to winter and spring gardens, with its attractive glossy white flowers and lush leaves.

It's commonly known as the Natal shell-flower, or the Natalese skulpblomos, although it's a fairly difficult plant to track down in New Zealand.

It is a fairy large shrub with slightly hairy, bright green leaves. In late winter to early spring alluring and unusual flowers come into bloom. The glossy, waxy flowers have an unusual ball or pouch shape and a sweet lemon scent.

The white flowers are fairly small, measuring only around 1.5 cm in diameter. However, their stark contrast to the leaves, and unusual shape make them a real eye-opener — not to mention the fact that they bloom when there is little else of interest in the garden.

Ideal Conditions:

The Natal shell-flower grows best in cool, moist conditions and is hardy to temperatures around -2degC.

It does best in a spot that enjoys partial shade and has well drained, humus-enriched soil.


The Natal shell-flower can be grown from seed or cutting.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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Last updated: June 2, 2004