When we first settled in the Eastern Cape we were struck by the beautiful yellow flowers that bloomed next to the roads and which covered many of the hills in the area. We soon discovered that they are called bitou (or tickberry), a plant I hadn’t come across before. I remain in awe of their massed beauty nearly three decades later.
I have since discovered that it is an indigenous pioneer plant that grows up to about 2 metres tall very quickly – we had two growing in our garden for about ten years, probably from seeds dropped by passing birds. During that time I noticed how thick the stems grew and that the fleshy branches became woody as the plant matured. The best thing about these ‘drop-in’ bushes was that they appeared to be drought-resistant so were always covered with leaves and the clusters of yellow, daisy-like flowers provided a show of bright colour even when the rest of the garden had shrivelled to nothing.
The flowers are particularly beautiful during late autumn and into winter. They attract bees, butterflies and several other insects as well as birds – the latter when the fruits ripen. I am hoping to find more growing in my garden in time to come.