Plumbago auriculata: Cape leadwort

Family: Plumbaginaceae
Common name: Cape leadwort, Plumbago, Blue plumbago, Cape plumbago

A plumbago plant in bloom is quite a sight, with bunches of pale blue or violet flowers spread throughout the plant. The flowers vary in color from light blue, violet, dark blue and even white. White ones are referred to as ‘Alba’ and dark blues ones are called ‘Imperial blue’. Cape leadwort plant grows as a thick shrub reaching to a height of 6 meters if allowed to climb on other structures or plants.

Flowers have a thin, long tube that’s about 1.5 inches long with 5 distinct, separated petals. The flowers are complete; because they have sepals, petals, pistils and stamens. They are also perfect flowers, having both male and female reproductive structures. They need good sunlight and fertilization to produce flowers in abundance.

Cape leadwort plants are good hedge or separator plants, due to its thick foliage. These plants also produce barbed and sticky fruit capsules. They can be pruned into desired shapes, and still produce flowers in abundance.

These plants are usually grown as ornamental plants; though they also have medicinal properties. It is also used in production of dyes. Cape leadwort plants have toxicity in their stem, roots, leaves and seeds due to the milky sap.

Propagation is from seeds or stem cuttings.

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