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Coleonema pulchellum I.


Family: Rutaceae

Common names: confetti bush

An aromatic, evergreen shrub covered with masses of starry pink flowers in winter
and spring.

Bush in flower

Coleonema pulchellum is an erect, evergreen shrub and reaches a height of 0.8 to 1

m. It forms a single stem at the base, from where numerous slender, erect branches

Close up of flower

The leaves are aromatic and needle-like and about 4 to 5 times as long (8-10 mm) as
broad (0.8 mm). The petiole is 1 mm long and the teeth at the leaf tip point
upwards. The flowers are solitary, terminal on short branchlets or axillary on
reduced branchlets, often crowded towards the tips of the branches. The flowers are
pink, often white and star-shaped (7 to 8 mm in diameter), have 5 oval petals, 5.0-
5.7 mm long, each marked with a distinctive central vein. The entire bush is
covered with flowers from autumn until spring (May to October), attracting bees,
butterflies and other interesting insects to your garden.

The fruit consists of a 5-chambered capsule, 5.1 x 4.5 mm, dotted with glands.
There is one shiny black seed per chamber and it is 2.8 to 2.9 x 1.5 mm.
Conservation Status

Coleonema pulchellum is not threatened.

Distribution and habitat

Coleonema pulchellum is found growing along coastal flats from Knysna to Port
Elizabeth. It occurs naturally from sea level to 150 m. It flourishes along the
coast and elsewhere. It is wind resistant and can tolerate mild frost.
Derivation of name and historical aspects

The genus name Coleonema is derived from the Greek koleos meaning 'a sheath', and
nema meaning 'a thread or filament'. Pulchellum means 'pretty' in Latin. Burchell
collected the first specimen of this species in December 1813 in Algoa Bay.

There are 8 species found in this genus and they occur from the Western Cape to the
Eastern Cape. Coleonema album, commonly known as the Cape May (Eng.) or Aasbossie
(Afr.), is an excellent plant for coastal gardens bearing white flowers. Fishermen
remove the odour of bait from their hands by rubbing the aromatic leaves. Coleonema
pulchrum, the Langeberg Confetti Bush, and C. virgatum, which bear pale pink or
white flowers, differ from C.pulchellum in having longer leaves, and bigger
flowers. Coleonema aspalathoides, has bright pink flowers and C. calycinum has
white flowers.

Coleonema belongs in the Rutaceae, the same family as Buchu, Agathosma crenulata ,
and although coleonemas are sometimes called buchus they are better known as
Confetti Bushes, or Cape May.