Plant DetailShow Menu

Sparmannia africana

Phonetic Spelling
spar-MAHN-nee-uh af-ri-KAHN-uh
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Sparmannia africana, or African Hemp, is a species of flowering evergreen shrub or small tree native to the open woodland of Africa and typically grown as a houseplant. In form, it is bushy with soft wood and a rounded habit. The branches are soft and young branches are covered in stiff, bristly hairs. It can be grown in the landscape as a cultivated herbaceous ornamental, but keep in mind that it will not like temperatures that go below 45 degrees F. It can grow to a height of 20 feet. It is not related to true hemp. 

Much of the attraction of this flowering shrub is in the puff of brightly bicoloured stamens. Sparrmannia species are known for the rapid movements made by the stamens when they are touched. When an insect, or a finger, bumps or brushes the flower the mass of stamens puffs out, rather like a hairy caterpillar puffing itself up when threatened. This adaptation helps in more effective pollination.

Grow Sparrmannia africana in sites with some shade. It will grow in a sunny position but prefers a bit of shade. It grows best in well-drained, fertile, well-composted soils. Add compost when planting and lay a generous mulch of compost at least once a year. It is better in a well ventilated position. It is not suited to an exposed position that receives strong wind and needs protection from frost. Water well and prune to shape. If left unpruned it can become leggy. Prune back hard once a year, in spring, to encourage a dense, bushy habit. Sparrmannia africana does well in pots and can be grown indoors where it needs a well ventilated position in bright light but not direct sun. Water well in summer. Feed generously or repot every year with fresh, composted soil.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:

Yellowing of the leaves indicates drought stress. Leaves rot off very quickly if they get too wet. Free air circulation reduces attacks by fungi on the leaves

Sparrmannia species are known for their haptonasty, rapid movements made by the stamens when they are touched. This adaptation helps in more effective pollinat

The hairs on the leaves of this plant are mildly poisonous, causing a low risk of skin irritation upon contact. The toxin of this plant is unknown, but the resulting skin irritation tends to last only a few minutes.

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#poisonous#houseplant#shrub#ornamental interest#evergreen shrub#ornamental
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
Tags:
#showy flowers#poisonous#houseplant#shrub#ornamental interest#evergreen shrub#ornamental
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Sparmannia
    Species:
    africana
    Family:
    Malvaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Stem Cutting
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South Africa
    Dimensions:
    Height: 10 ft. 0 in. - 20 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 7 ft. 0 in. - 13 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Houseplant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Broad
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    The fruit is a rounded capsule, covered in spiny bristles, that splits open when ripe to release brown seeds with a finely wrinkled seed coat.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Umbel
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Long Bloom Season
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Winter
    Flower Petals:
    more than 20 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    The flowers are white with a mass of yellow and red-purple stamens in the centre, produced in 10 to 20 umbels towards the ends of the branches. In bud, the flowers are white to greenish white and drooping, and the outer surface of the flower stalks are covered in short bristly hairs.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Soft
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Leaf Margin:
    Dentate
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    > 6 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Heart-shaped, irregularly toothed leaves up to 8 inches long. The leaves often have 3, 5, 7 or 9 lobes but are usually entire near the inflorescence. The leaves are softly textured, covered in short, bristly hairs on both sides.
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Surface:
    Hairy (pubescent)
    Stem Description:
    The branches are soft and young branches are covered in stiff, bristly hairs.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Houseplants
    Landscape Theme:
    Shade Garden
    Design Feature:
    Shade Tree
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    The hairs of the leaves of this plant are mildly poisonous causing skin irritation upon contact. The toxin is unknown, but the irritation is minor and lasts only a few minutes.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Unknown
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    Yes
    Poison Part:
    Leaves