White Bristle Bush

Blombos (Afr.) or White bristle bush (Eng.)
Metalasia muricata

More commonly referred to by its Afrikaans name, Blombos is a widespread, tough shrub with honey-scented flowers whose garden potential is often overlooked. At this time of the year its clusters of tiny white flowers brings a splendid sprinkling of colour and attractive texture to our Greenbelts.

Description: Blombos  is a greyish, rounded, sturdy shrub (2-4 m) that is widespread in the Western Cape and  is found in coastal to mountainous regions of southern Africa. The honey-scented flowers are mainly white in Vermont but can vary in colour to pink or purple. Full bloom is in winter in terminal clusters (60 mm in diameter).

Name: The Latin name Metalasia is derived from the Greek Meta meaning backwards/reverse and lasios, woolly, referring to the woolly undersides of the leaves; muricata is derived from murex, and means roughened and with hard points like the shell of a mollusc.

blom bosUses and cultural aspects: In Lesotho the dried leaves are used as tea, and in coastal regions, it is planted on dunes to control erosion. In a coastal fynbos natural environment Blombos  also fulfils the role of a pioneer plant growing relatively quickly and covering disturbed areas of bush. They provide protection to seedlings of slower growing plants such as Milkwood trees.

Blombos is frequently used in flower arrangements and  are used by the indigenous flower industry for overseas markets. In a garden setting, it can be used as a filler to provide flowering and greyish interest throughout the year. It’s a low maintenance, wind-tolerant and water-wise shrub that can do with an occasional pruning.

(Acknowledgements to www.plantzafrica.com)