Sunday, April 25, 2010

South Africa in Berkeley: Phylica Pubescens in the Botanical Garden

Phylica pubescens is a genus of the buckthorn (Rhamnaceae) family in the order Rosales. The common English name is featherhead and it is not difficult to see how this name came about by looking at the hairy leaves of the bush in the picture, taken on a sunny day in early spring in the Southern Africa section of the University of California Botanical Garden. Phylica pubescens is native to the Western Cape Province in South Africa, where it is called veerkoppie.
Specimens were brought to Europe, when the first European ships reached the Cape. Since the 17th century Phylica plants were grown in European garden. There are about 150 Phylica species, native to areas in Southern Africa, Madagascar and to South Atlantic islands such as Tristan da Cuhna, where one species has its home. The Mediterranean-type climate, which these flowering plants are accustomed to, occurs in the southwest-faced hills above Berkeley, where they can easily be spotted just off one of the narrow trails through the diverse Southern African collection.

[1] Jane Forrester and Harold Porter NBG: Phylica pubescens, December 2004.
[2] CalPhotos Photo Database: Phylica pubescens.

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