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Agathosma gonaquensis

   (Family: Rutaceae)
Afrikaans: Hottentotsboegoe English: Buchu, Gonaqua buchu  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Height: 0.5 - 1m
Special properties:
  Drought Resistant (heavy)
  Frost Tolerant (light)
  Has Medicinal Uses
Rarity Status:
Preferred rainfall: Summer
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Biome: Grassland
Flowering time EDIT
            x x x x x x
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
  Bees, butterflies and other insects
  Flower info
  The dense flowerheads consist of 1-12 individual flowers and each measures 5 mm in diameter.
Leaf arrangement
  Leaf scent
  Sweet to pungent scent
  Leaf info EDIT
  The leaves are small, dark green 6-9 mm long, crowded and alternately arranged on the stems. The natural oils within its leaves produce a pleasant fragrance when the foliage is crushed or handled.
Fruit type EDIT
Sow seeds in Autumn
  Seeds per fruit 3
Seed colour
  Seed info EDIT
  The fruit has a three-chambered seed capsule with one shiny black seed in each chamber. The seed capsule turns from green to brown as it matures. The seed is released and scattered over a distance (known as ballistic dispersal or catapult mechanism).
Description EDIT
Compact, low-lying buchu with rounded and spreading shape.
Grows to 50cm to 1m.
Foliage has a pungent sweet smell.
Dense white flowers from July to December.
Growing EDIT
Likes alkaline soils and full sun.
Once established, it withstands both drought and frost.

Buchus can be successfully grown from seed or cuttings. Seed harvested for sowing should not be picked too early, as the embryo is not fully developed. Seed will not be viable and germination percentage will be low. Do a test by pressing the seed capsule between your fingers. If it feels hard and not soft and it is dark green or brown, it is ready for picking. The capsules disperse the seeds explosively, so place seed capsules in a closed paper bag for drying and storage.

Seed ripens in summer (October to December). Fresh buchu seed is sown in autumn (March to April). The seeds are sown into a tray containing a well-drained medium of equal portions of sand, loam and compost. Use some of the medium to cover the seed and water. Place in a covered area with good light and air circulation. Keep medium-damp. Germination occurs in one to two months.

Young seedlings are pricked out into 0.5 l bags when four true leaves have developed. Use a medium suitable for fynbos. Feed plants regularly but sparingly with a well-balanced fertilizer. Pinch out the growing tips of the seedlings to encourage bushy growth. Flowers are produced after two years.

After flowering, plants develop new shoots or branches, which are ideal for tip, stem or heel cuttings. Collect plant material early in the morning to reduce stress. Cuttings have the advantage of producing a larger flowering plant quicker than seedlings. Tip cuttings, 50-70 mm, are taken from the current year's growth. Prepare cuttings by making a clean cut below the node and remove a third of the foliage. Dip the base of the cutting in a rooting hormone. Firmly place the cuttings in a medium of 50% bark and 50% polystyrene and water cuttings with a fungicide. Ideally these cuttings should now be placed in a well-aerated propagation unit with a bottom heat of 24ºC. Rooting occurs in 9 to 11 weeks. Carefully pot the rooted cuttings using a well-drained, humus-rich, fynbos potting medium (2 parts leaf mould, 1 part coarse sand). Plants will be ready for planting in 7 to 8 months, ideally during autumn to spring. Feed regularly with a well-balanced nutrient. Yellow leaves can be treated with an application of iron chelate.
Distribution EDIT
It is restricted to a tiny area of the Eastern Cape, South Africa.
Used to be common around Port Elizabeth.
History EDIT
Currently critically endangered.
A large number of old herbarium collections indicate that this species was once common around Port Elizabeth, however, only two small, severely fragmented subpopulations remain after the majority of this species' habitat was lost to urban expansion. EOO 100 km², it continues to decline due to alien plant invasion and ongoing urban expansion.
It is used in local traditional medicine to make a tea to treat colds and hay fever.

Grown in gardens, it is actually remarkably tough and waterwise.
Great for coastal gardens.
Attracts bees.
Ecology EDIT
Flowering bushes attract bees, butterflies and other insects, which pollinate the flowers. Seed is often found at the base of the shrub and carried away by ants.
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