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Products > Hymenolepis crithmifolia
Hymenolepis crithmifolia - Coulter Bush

[2nd Image]
Habit and Cultural Information
Category: Shrub
Family: Asteraceae (Sunflowers)
Origin: South Africa (Africa)
Evergreen: Yes
Flower Color: Yellow
Bloomtime: Spring/Summer
Synonyms: [Athanasia, H. parviflora, H. crithmoides]
Height: 3-4 feet
Width: 3-5 feet
Exposure: Full Sun
Summer Dry: Yes
Irrigation (H2O Info): Low Water Needs
Winter Hardiness: 20-25 F
Hymenolepis crithmifolia (Coulter Bush) - A dense, upright, multi-stemmed and rounded evergreen shrub that typically grows to 4 feet tall but in age becomes more open and possibly a bit taller. Grayish-green leaves are deeply divided into very slender, linear lobes giving the shrub a soft-textured appearance with lower stems bare. Small tight flower clusters form at the branch tips and open to a brilliant sulfur-yellow in spring and late summer - flowers are sweetly fragrant. Plant in full sun in well-draining soil. An interesting looking shrub even when not in bloom and sensational when in flower when it is also attractive to butterflies and bees. Best when a few are planted close together for a mass display and to hide lower bare stems. This plant comes from rocky sandstone slopes in Namaqualand and the southwestern Cape of South Africa, often along roadsides. The name for the genus comes from the Greek words 'hymeno' which means "membranous" and 'lepis' meaning "scale", thought to be in reference to the bracts or paleae on the flower head receptacles. The specific epithet means "with leaves like Crithmium" a reference to the dissected leaves of Crithmum maritimum, a plant in the carrot family that is commonly called Rock Samphire. The older name for this plant was Athanasia parviflora and later renamed to Hymenolepis parviflora with the epithet a combination of 'parvi' meaning "small" and 'flora' meaning flower in reference to the small florets in the compound heads of this composite flower. In an interesting twist the February 2005 issue of the journal Taxon describes this plant under the new name Hymenolepis crithmifolia (L.) Greuter, M.V. Agab. & Wegenitz. Though the name Hymenolepis parviflora had been used for many years by this time, it was the authors belief that the name was not "sufficiently well known to justify being saved by means of conservation". This name likely may cause some confusion with another related South African plant, Athanasia crithmifolia, that has less filiform leaves and more rounded flower heads. It is also interesting that Hymenolepis crithmifolia is listed in several fairly recent South African publications using the specific epithet "crithmoides", which possibly is just a typographical error. We first grew this tough plant as Athanasia parviflora from 1993 until 1996, after getting seed so identified in 1991 from the National Botanic Garden of South Africa, Kirstenbosch. We thought it was a great plant but it seem underappreciated and the lack of sales dictated that we stop growing it. With our more recent round of dry winters and hot summers, we feel it is time for this plant to make a comeback and are again growing it. We thank Rachel Young at Descanso Gardens for the cuttings that enabled us to put it back into production!  The information on this page is based on our research that has been conducted on this plant in our nursery library, from online sources, and from observations made of the crops growing in the nursery, plants in the nursery's garden and those in other gardens where we have observed it. We also have incorporated comments received from others and welcome getting feedback from those who may have additional information, particularly if this information includes cultural information that would aid others in growing Hymenolepis crithmifolia.