Freylinia crispa

Van Jaarsv.

Family : Scrophulariaceae
Common names : bell bush (Eng.); klokkiesbos (Afr.)


The attractive purple flowers of the bell bush will brighten up your garden.

Freylinia crispa is an erect, slender shrub, which grows up to 2.5 m high. The leaves are ovate with the leaf margins slightly thickened and crisped. The subpendulous flowers are purple. The shrub flowers from April to October.


Conservation status
Freylinia crispa is considered Least Concern (LC), Rare according to the Red Data List (Reference). It is rare in its natural habitat.

Distribution and habitat
The bell bush is found in the Kouga Valley near Brandhoek in the Joubertina District. The shrub grows in sunny, well-drained, steep, east-facing rocky scree (Table Mountain Sandstone) in dry fynbos.

Derivation of name and historical aspects

The genus Freylinia was named after Count L. Freylino who owned a well-known garden in Italy in the 19th century. The species name crispa refers to the irregular wavy edge of the leaves. There are also nine other species of Freylinia in South Africa of which F. tropica, F. lanceolata, F. densiflora and F. undulata make beautiful garden plants.

The seed capsules of the plant ripen from early summer and split open, releasing flat, winged seeds, which are dispersed by wind. It also has rhizomes from which it resprouts and produces small suckers. This is another way of ensuring its survival in the veld, particularly after fire or being grazed.

Uses and cultural aspects
No cultural uses have been recorded.

Growing in Kirstenbosch

Growing Freylinia crispa

Freylinia crispa is grown easily from cuttings. Take soft wood to semi-mature, short cuttings in autumn, spring or summer. These cuttings can be treated with a rooting hormone to help stimulate rooting. They will root within a month. Once the cuttings have rooted, place them in a slightly shaded area to harden off for three weeks before potting. Pot in a well-drained soil mix and place under a shade net until ready for planting. Propagation from seed has not yet been tried.

The bell bush is an ideal plant for any fynbos garden and will make an excellent water-wise garden plant. It will grow particularly well in loamy soils and will do well in a warm sunny spot or a lightly shaded area in your garden. The plant grows tall and vigorously so it can be planted as a screen to hide any structures or walls and can also be planted at the back of a bed with smaller shrubs and herbaceous perennials growing in front of it. Regular pruning will keep the bush nice and tidy. The bright purple flowers attract birds to the bush and it is ideal for attracting birds to the garden.

References and further reading

  • Goldblatt, P. & Manning, J. 2000 Cape Plants, A Conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. National Botanical Institute of South Africa & MBG Press, Missouri Botanical Garden. Cape Town
  • Hyam, R. & Pankhurst, R. 1995. Plants and their Names, A concise dictionary. Oxford University Press.
    Van Jaarsveld, E. 1990-1991. Freylinia crispa. Flowering Plants of Africa 51: pl 2033. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

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Trevor Adams
Kirstenbosch NBG
November 2007









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