This beautiful ornamental species found in shaded areas is native to the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. It blooms in spring and summer at Val Rahmeh. Nectariferous, it attracts a great deal of pollinators and therefore contributes to the emergence of a sophisticated ecosystem.
Phygelius, “shelter (phyge in Greek), against the sun (helios in Greek)”, is named so because the plant grows best in the shade. Capensis means “from the cape of Good-Hope”.
Description and flowering period
It is a fast-growing bushy shrub reaching between 0.6 and 1.5 meter in height. It is semi-persistent: it can shed its leaves in case of strong winter cold. The leaves are opposite and bright green. The pendulous flowers are grouped on abundant, long and erect panicles. The individual flower is composed of a slightly curved tubular corolla crowned by small pointed lobes. They vary in colour from orange-pink with a yellow centre to completely yellow, even though this form is more rare. The shape and colours of the flowers are especially adapted to attract nectar-feeding birds, yet many others pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, also visit them. The fruit is a small ovoid capsule.
It grows alongside banks of mountain brooks. In cultivation, it requires a fresh, fertile, humus-rich yet well-drained soil in a sunny or part-shade sheltered location. It is hardy to -15°C.
There is a closely related species, Phygelius aequalis, which only differs by the fact that all the flowers on its inflorescences are facing in the same direction and that its flowers’ lobes are going downwards while those of Phygelius capensis are recurved to point upwards.
Translated by: François Saint-Hillier – MNHN