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Hyperacanthus amoenus, Gardenia amoena, Thorny gardenia, Murombe, Bembethu

Hyperacanthus amoenus, Gardenia amoena

Thorny gardenia, Murombe, Bembethu
Family: Rubiaceae
Origin: South Africa
Large shrub 5-10 ftSmall tree 10-20 ftFull sunRegular waterPink flowersWhite/off-white flowersFragrantThorny or spinySubtropical, cold hardy at least to 30s F for a short time

This shrub or small tree with its glossy green foliage and pretty flowers is an attractive option for gardeners looking to expand their collection of indigenous shrubs. Lateral branches are arranged opposite on the main stem. Leaves develop below spines, are simple, clustered and arranged in whorls of five with smooth margins. Growth tips of new leaves are red. Spines are smaller than leaves. Flower buds are red to pink and open into white star-like flowers with a delightful fragrance. Green fruits develop after flowering and become fleshy brown as they ripen.

Hyperacanthus amoenus occurs naturally in Mozambique, Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Mpumalanga. Its preferred habitat is bushveld, forest and woodland.

The genus is relatively small in South Africa with only a few species. It was previously classified under the genus Gardenia, but has recently been shown to be clearly separate. The genus name Hyperacanthus is derived from the Greek hyper, meaning above, and akantha, meaning spine. The species name amoenus means pleasant or delightful.

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