Melianthus from the Greek 'meli' meaning honey and 'anthos' meaning flower; alluding to the flowers which produce copious black nectar. Comosus from Latin meaning hairy or tufted; referring to the plant being hairy all over or to the leaves clustered in a tuft at the tip of the branches.
Distribution and status
An introduced species native to south-western Africa (South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia) and recorded in the southern Mount Lofty Ranges and the South-east in South Australia, growing in coast environment and drier inland sites. Also found in Victoria. Introduced. Uncommon in South Australia. Uncommon in Victoria.
Herbarium regions: Southern Lofty, South Eastern, Green Adelaide
NRM regions: Adelaide and Mount Lofty Ranges, South East
AVH map: SA distribution map (external link)
Erect much-branched, hairy shrub to 2 m tall. Leaves large, grey-green, serrated, clustered towards the tips of the branches. Inflorescence a spike with hairy greenish and pink flowers with a dark red spot inside at the base. Flowering between August and November. Fruits are grey-brown four-winged bladder-like capsule to 30 cm long.
Seed collection and propagation
Collect seeds between November and February. Collection the mature capsules, those that are turning brown, fat and contain dark hard seeds. Place the capsules in a tray for a week. Then rub the capsules with your fingers to dislodge all the seeds. Use a sieve to separate the unwanted material. Be careful as the seeds are very small. Store the seeds with a desiccant such as dried silica beads or dry rice, in an air tight container in a cool and dry place.