Tecoma capensis (common name Cape honeysuckle) is a species of flowering plant in the family Bignoniaceae, native to southern Africa. Despite its common name, it is not closely related to the true honeysuckle.
An erect, scrambling shrub, it grows to 2–3 m (7–10 ft) in height and a similar width. Normally evergreen, it may lose its leaves in colder climates. In certain habitats it may scramble, meaning that it shoots out long growth tips which lean on the stems and branches of other plants, as well as boulders, trellises, fences and walls; this can lead to the plant appearing untidy. The leaves are up to 15 cm (6 in) long. They are opposite, slightly serrated, green to dark-green, and pinnate with 5 to 9 oblong leaflets.
The flowers are tubular, narrow, about 7.5 cm (3 in) long, and are produced at different times throughout the year. They are grouped in 10–15 cm (4–6 in) long terminal clusters. The flower colour ranges from orange to orange-red to apricot.
The species occurs naturally in South Africa, Eswatini and southern Mozambique. It is cultivated in other areas of the world, such as in South-east Asia, Hawaii and California. It can be considered invasive in remote islands such as the Azores (as seen at the island of São Miguel, near Ponta Garça).
Tecoma capensis has been in cultivation for many years and is often used for hedging, as it is a scrambling shrub. It can be propagated from cuttings or by removing rooted suckers during the active growth phase.
It can be planted in semi-shade to full sun. Tolerating temperatures down to 5 °C (41 °F), it can be grown in mild temperate areas with the protection of a warm wall. Otherwise it can be grown in a container and taken indoors through the winter months. To keep this shrub clean and tidy, it must be pruned back in late winter to promote new growth and flowers. The application of a balanced fertilizer after pruning will enhance the growth and flowering.
Tecoma capensis is an excellent plant to use in a wildlife garden in Southern Africa, since it is popular with sunbirds and certain insects due to its nectar. As a scrambler, it can be quite dense (if pruned) and as such can be utilised as a nesting site by a few bird species.
- The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species, retrieved 18 May 2016
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- RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
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Media related to Tecoma capensis at Wikimedia Commons