isiXhosa: Ubuhlungubemamba

Afrikaans: Kruidjie-roer-my-nie

Touch-me-not


Touch-me-not

Melianthus major

Scientific name

As seen in the picture, this plant has distinctively shaped large bright green leaves and elongated post of red flowers. The leaves give off a nutty repulsive smell.

It grows easily and fast from seeds and cuttings. Seeds are sown in autumn in sandy soil and covered with a sprinkling of sand or fine bark. Cuttings can be taken any time from young shoots at the bottom of the plant.

Pollinated by sunbirds, white eyes, starlings and bees and attracts butterflies.

This plant is poisonous if used incorrectly but has been used in traditional medicine for a wide range of treatments. See links below for more detail.

Propagation instructions

By seed

Melianthus major grows very easily from seed or cuttings.

The seed is sown in autumn in seed trays filled with a well-drained medium and covered lightly with sand or finely milled bark.

Germination is usually within a month.

The young seedlings are potted up into bags or small pots and grown on until strong enough to be planted out into the garden.

it prefers a warm, well-watered, sunny position, with good drainage.

Although quite tough and adaptable, it will flourish in deep, rich soil, especially if given plenty of water. 

Melianthus grows fast and will make a show within a few months.

Make sure to give it enough room to spread.

During the dry summers or whenever the plants are untidy, they should be cut back hard, to encourage new growth.

The plants can survive in cold areas with frost, sending new shoots from the base in spring.

By cutting

Melianthus major grows very easily from seed or cuttings.

The cuttings can be made any time of the year depending on material available.

Cuttings are made from the new shoots sprouting from the base.

References and further reading

PlantZAfrica profile »

Wikipedia page »

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons.
Seedbank Quantity
Arundel Seedbank 1059
Total 1059
Nursery Quantity
Joydell 20
Total 20

This table below shows how many plants we are trying to obtain for this species.

Site Area Quantity
Site #18 Rosebank 10
Site #62 Newlands 25
Total 35

Can you help grow this species?

We are in need of this species! Can you help? Maybe you have this species at home, or perhaps you can collect seeds or cuttings (if applicable) from friends or from a public space. If so, why don't you help establish this species in areas where it is much needed!

I can help!

Important characteristics

Conservation status: Least Concern

This species was selected because it has various important characteristics.

This is a bird-friendly species

It provides medicinal value

Fragrant

Easy to grow

Suitable for clay soil

It provides food for:

Honeybees/flies

Southern double-collared sunbird

Melianthus major is indigenous to: Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos

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