Hermannia hyssopifolia brings back very pleasant memories to me. Ten years ago while I was busy propagating indigenous plants in Sedgefield, a man came in and asked me if these ‘babies‘ were for sale. He was referring to the plants! This friendly guy and I chatted for a while, and in that time he shared how he was busy improving the gardens in Steenbok Nature Reserve.
Mr Roger Voysey came back a couple of times after that, wanting more of my other types of ‘babies‘. Then life happened and I left that nursery, but about three years ago I bumped into Roger at Steenbok. He didn’t recognise me – but I recognised him. We got chatting, and I reminded him of Hermannia hyssopifolia, because I had just seen them in Steenbok and they looked stunning so many years later – and still do now.
This rounded shrub that can be as small as 300mm but also up to 2m. The new stems are purple and hairy while the older stems are reddish. The flowers have an inflated balloon-like calyx (see picture left) with the tips of the petals protruding and appear in dense terminal clusters. The seeds are enclosed in the “balloons” calyx which by then have taken a much more paper-like appearance.
H. hyssopifolia is one of a number of aromatic shrubby plants known as agtdaegeneesbossie, meaning eight-day healing bush, as they are supposed to cure within eight days.