Dissotis canescens (E. Mey. ex R.A. Graham) Hook. f.

Common Names:
Pink Marsh Dissotis (Eng); Kalverbossie (Afr); imfeyesele (Zulu)

Dissotis canescens

FoliageName Derivation: Dissos = "twofold", in reference to the anthers which are two different types; canescens, refers to the greyish-white hairs on the plant.

This pretty shrub looks remarkably like a dwarf version of the related South American tibouchina trees (Tibouchina spp.) which are grown in the more tropical parts of the country. This is where the similarity ends! Our pink marsh dissotis is a soft wooded shrub up to 1.5 m in height and 1m in spread. It is deciduous in winter and may be grown in a warm position on the highveld where it is dormant for the coldest months.

Dissotis canescensThe large brilliant magenta flowers appear from December to April and make a spectacular display. They contrast well with the dark green to purplish leaves and reddish stems of the plant. The flowers are quite unusual in that they have two sets of stamens (pollen producing parts) which differ from each other. Five are purple and curved and the other five are shorter and yellow in colour.

The Pink Marsh Dissotis can be found growing in marshy areas from the Eastern Cape through the eastern regions of South African and into tropical Africa.

Growing Dissotis canescens

It is a rewarding garden plant provided it is given enough water in summer. It makes a good shrub border specimen. A prime position would be near a pond where it can obtain plenty of moisture. It prefers full sun and thrives in good soil with lots of compost.

It may be grown from seed in spring and cuttings taken in spring and summer. It is also possible to propagate it from rooted runners which may be lifted.

It has been traditionally used as a famine plant and also to treat dysentery and hangovers.

Alice Aubrey
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden
March 2001


To find out if SANBI has seed of this or other SA species, please email our seedroom.

This page forms part of the South African National Biodiversity Institute's plant information website www.plantzafrica.com