Friday, December 23, 2016

Plant profile: Bulbine

Latin name: Bulbine frutescens ("BUHL-bin-ee froo-TESS-ens")
Common name: Bulbine, Cat's Tail, Jelly Burn Plant
Originally from: Southern Africa (South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland).
Blooms: Orange and yellow flowers are held above the foliage in late spring/early summer.
Light: Full sun to part shade
Water: Although a succulent they seem to prefer occasional water over the summer.
Height x width: 18"x24"
Zones: 8-11
Where to find in P. Garden: We have some dotted around the left bed and brights bed.

The genus Bulbine has about 80 species, which are found mostly in Southern Africa, with a few species extending into tropical Africa, about six in Australia and some in Yemen.

Bulbine frutescens is a nice little perennial with succulent, finger-shaped leaves and lovely delicate orange and yellow flowers. It's mostly dormant in summer, blooming in the spring, and then again somewhat in fall. It can be propagated easily by stem cuttings which can be planted immediately and kept in a shady area. They do not need any special attention or treatment, and build strong roots in a couple of months.

Bulbine in San Diego
Bulbine frutescens is sometimes commonly called Jelly Burn Plant as it contain glycoproteins, similar to many aloe species, and is touted for similar burn-healing properties as Aloe vera. These properties have also caused it to be called cape balsam (from the Africaans name balsem kopieva) - other common names include snake flower, cat's tail and and geelkatstert. says:
The fresh leaf produces a jelly-like juice that is wonderful for burns, rashes, blisters, insect bites, cracked lips, acne, cold sores, mouth ulcers and areas of cracked skin. This plant is ideal to grow and is a useful first-aid remedy for children's daily knocks and scrapes. The Rastafarians make an infusion of a few fresh leaves in a cup of boiling water. The strained drink is taken for coughs, colds and arthritis.

These plants prefer full sun, but they will also grow in semi-shade for part of the day. At PG it needs a bit of water - I wouldn't call it really xeric but rather "pretty drought tolerant," and I have to put it places where it will be somewhat damper for it to look good. It multiplies rapidly in the right conditions. Prune it when untidy, and deadhead for more flowers. For best results it should be planted in well-drained soil preferably enriched with compost.

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