a mystery plant… solved it’s Bushman’s Poison!

Posted: September 16, 2013 by Mo Crow in gardening

mystery plantDoes anyone recognize this plant?
the flowers are highly fragrant & out now (spring here in Australia)
NB Ha! found it in good old Stirling  Macoboy’s “What Flower is That?”
A is for Acokanthera aka Bushman’s Poison  & because it has been growing in the shade for years it never developed the large fruit or that characteristic purple tinge to the leaves!
+ I was totally barking up the wrong family tree, it’s in Apocynaceae!
I do enjoy a good mystery to wrangle with though!

  1. deanna7trees says:

    i know i’ve seen it before but i don’t know what it is…pretty…i bet the leaves would leave a nice print on silk cloth. i know i’m not any help here. sorry.

  2. Carol says:

    Mo, I’m still stuck on Bouvardia (see Facebook convo). I’ve looked at lots of things in that family, (and reminded myself of a few things I’d like to buy for the garden). I don’t know if I’ve told you but I grew up on a flower farm and we grew bouvardia for market. I vaguely think the leaves were smaller but this may be a more modern version. I can recall the perfume, just wonderful. Maybe Di has some ideas.

  3. Carol says:

    Me again. From what I can see, Bouvardia has 4 petals and your flower has five, so I’ve gone off that line of thought. Have you thought about Stephanotis? Five petals on a tubular thingy, highly perfumed, out now. We used to grow that too.

  4. Mo Crow says:

    thanks Carol & Deanna I do love Bouvardia and Stephanotis but it’s tough old Acokanthera aka Bushman’s Poison fooling us because it’s been grown in the shade and has never developed fruit or the characteristic purple tinge to the leaves!!

    • Carol says:

      Well, stone the crows! Oh, sorry, that’s a bit tactless… I’d never have come up with that. Kills elephants? What are you doing with it Mo, and where did you find it? I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen it growing, sounds pretty scarily toxic…

      • Mo Crow says:

        My friend Julie who has a plant nursery in Bellingen has a customer who needed advice, funny thing is I have always discounted it as a rather ordinary plant with those large fruit and purplish tinge to the leaves but when grown in a protected shady position it can be quite pretty… but still deadly!

  5. blackgeiger says:

    Acokanthera. You’ve already found that out! (I was away yesterday so have only just seen this post)
    It’s a beauty and I’d like to grow it but think my climate would do for it.And there is no room here anyway!

    • Mo Crow says:

      It’s a plant that I have never liked much as it is so tough it gets put in harsh positions and then neglected but good to know that when placed in a sheltered shady spot it looks quite pretty!
      & y’know what I loved about solving that little plant ID mystery?
      even with all the online keys and photos available in this 21stC world it was going through all my old books of plants that was so much fun & was amazed with how many of those plants are familiar these days after a lifetime of gardening and also the ones I have never tried i.e. Myrtus communis… it looks like a perfect hardy hedging plant for Sydney & wondering why it isn’t being used here?

  6. julie says:

    I agree, Mo! I have been trying to get hold of Myrtus communis for ages but it seems to be in short supply – surprising since it has so many uses and represents Venus and love.

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