Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Berzelia lanuginosa--Buttonbush

Those flower clusters look just like cute little buttons, no wonder this plant is called Buttonbush. The description I read indicated that it grows 6' tall and 4' wide, but I think this one at the UC Botanical Garden, is bigger. This very handsome evergreen, which is endemic to the fynbos of South Africa, has a long bloom season and tiny leaves covering the stems.

I thought that saying a plant was from the fynbos was like saying it is a chaparal plant. But that isn't true. The fynbos is the smallest of six Floral Kingdoms. The US is in the Holarctic Floral Kingdom, which also includes Canada, Europe and Russia. Huge!

The tiny leaves of B. lanuginosa is typical of plants of the fynbos, and in fact "fynbos" or "fine bush" refers to the needle-like leaves found on many of the plants native to the region. This area has a Mediterranean climate, like the San Francisco Bay Area: winter rain, summer drought, mild temperatures. No wonder plants from South Africa grow so well here! Other plants common in the fynbos are restios and proteas.

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