Phymaspermum acerosum

(DC.) Källersjö

Common names : Common names: Geelblombos(A) Isibhaha-segceke, umhlonishwa (Z)

Image of P. acerosum in habitat

The geelblombos will brighten up any dull area in the garden during the autumn months.

The geelblombos, from the summer rainfall area, is an erect straggly shrub, reaching a height and width of 1.5-2 m. It is a multi-stemmed perennial with woody, densely leaved stems. The leaves are 10-45 mm long with a large glandlike swelling at the base of the midrib on the underside of the leaf. The leaves are finely divided with 5-7 lobes or they can be simple. The lobes are 3-30 mm long.

The flowers occur in large, dense, flat topped inflorescences, which are 200-250 mm in diameter and are bright yellow. Flowering occurs from April until June (autumn).

Image of P. acerosum flowers

Conservation status
Not threatened

Distribution and habitat
Phymaspermum acerosum is found growing in colonies along forest margins and in grassland at altitudes of 90-2200 m. It is found in the Eastern Cape, Free State, Kwa-Zulu Natal, Lesotho, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Gauteng and the Northern Province.

Image of P. acerosum stems

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus name Phymaspermum is derived from the Greek phyma meaning swelling and sperma meaning seed and the species name acerosum means needle shaped, like a pine needle.

Phymaspermum acerosum attracts insects and thereby improving the bird life in the garden by attracting insectivorous birds.

Phymaspermum acerosum is a rapid growing pioneer plant and is invading overgrazed grassland.

Uses and cultural aspects
In traditional medicine, Phymaspermum acerosum is used as a charm to ward off lightning. Because of it is rapid growth, it is used as a pioneer plant.

Image of P. acerosum

Growing Phymaspermum acerosum

Phymaspermum acerosum can be propagated by sowing seed in spring or autumn, or by cuttings. Once the flowering season has passed and the new shoots begin to grow, heel cutting or stem cuttings can be taken. Select healthy cutting material. Use a rooting hormone, and place cuttings in trays with a light, well-drained medium, under mist with bottom heating. Under these conditions, cuttings should root within weeks.

Once the cuttings have rooted, remove them from the bottom heating and harden thm off under a shade net for a week. Pot the cuttings up and leave them under the shade net for three weeks. Thereafter, move them into a sunny area.

Phymaspermum acerosum planted en masse with Leonotus leonurus and different types of sage bushes such as Hemizygia or Syncolostemon, which flower at the same time of year, can brighten up any dull garden by adding contrasting colours as well as give it body and form. It can be used in mixed borders as one of the larger shrubs, planted in the centre or the back of the bed. The geelblombos prefers a sunny area in the garden where the soil is well-drained and well composted. Once it has finished flowering, prune the bush back to promote bushy growth.

References and further reading

  • Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wild flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
  • Van Jaarsveld, E. 2000. Wonderful water-wise gardening. Tafelberg, Cape Town.
  • Pooley, E.2003. Mountain Flowers. A Field Guide to the flora of the Drakensberg and Lesotho. The Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
  • Jackson, W.P.U. 1990. Origins and meanings of names of South African Plant Genera. UCT Ecolab Botany Department, CapeTown.
  • Powrie, F.1998. Grow South African Plants, Kirstenbosch Gardening Series. National Botanical Institute.
  • Hutchings, A., Scott, A.H., Lewis, G. and Cunningham, A.1996. Zulu medicinal plants an inventory. University of Natal Press, Durban.
  • Website: Plants of southern Africa : an online checklist.  


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Karen Wall
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
July 2008







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

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