The tortoise berry is a striking plant when covered in its masses of dainty purple flowers. Attractive and unusual spiny foliage, pretty red edible fruits and water-wise attributes all combine to make it a great choice for the discerning gardener.
Chewing on small amounts of fermented leaves can help with sleeplessness. A tea/infusion brewed from stems and leaves are used to assist with abdominal pain and tuberculosis, as well as a general tonic or bitter digestive. It is a remedy for treating colds, flu and bronchitis when brewed with Lebeckia multiflora . The Tswana people use the root in a preparation for the treatment of malaria. The fruits are rich in Vitamin C and are quite thirst-quenching.
This plant grows very well in rockeries, on slopes, terraforce walls and any well-drained, sunny garden position, providing a beautiful display. This hardy plant requires no special care, is fairly water-wise and pest resistant. Once established in the garden, it will tolerate drought, wind and some frost. As it grows naturally next to the sea it is also an ideal small shrub for coastal gardens.
Propagation is best from seed, as cuttings are slow and difficult to root.