Mother Nature and bietou in our gardens

by Diana Studer
- gardening for biodiversity
in Cape Town, South Africa

September 2015 renamed Osteospermum moniliferum 
from Chyrsanthemoides monilifera
(Updated post again October 2021)

Casa Mariposa brings a Mother Nature who roars (learning to listen) when we ignore her courteous – this plant won't grow in your garden, THAT plant will take over. Benjamin Vogt of the Deep Middle says – ‘Using plants native to your locale is a moral and ethical choice’ - while he campaigns for prairie.  

Chrysanthemoides monilifera at Cape Columbine in July 2010
Osteospermum moniliferum  at Cape Columbine in July 2010

Chrysanthemoides monilifera at Elephant's Eye
Osteospermum moniliferum  at Elephant's Eye

Three garden bloggers led me to September’s choice in Dozen for Diana. Planted by birds who enjoy the little black berries, it appeared in our Camps Bay garden. It grew into a graceful gnarled ‘Bonsai’ tree, pruned by nature and me, as Deb does her crape myrtle in her Alabama Summer garden paths (showcased against the lawn in her Woodland Garden). When we left I had a cutting in a one litre yoghurt bakkie, which is now a green hulk shrub brushing my shoulders, with a gang of bullies circumference opposing me. Needing their arms and legs lopped off to keep the path to the front door open. 

Chrysanthemoides monilifera flowers with berries in April 2010
Osteospermum moniliferum  flowers with berries in April 2010

As I was digging thru my blog archive for pictures WITH berries (there were none to be seen on the bush today) I found the plant growing wild by the sea at Cape Columbine. The picture is my proof this chosen plant will flourish, when I take cuttings for the birds in our False Bay garden. On the shore the bush is sculpted close to the ground by salt sea breezes and the prevailing Southeaster. 

Leaves and seeds of Chrysanthemoides monilifera
Leaves and seeds of Osteospermum moniliferum 

Detail of young leaf of Chrysanthemoides monilifera
Detail of young leaf of Osteospermum moniliferum 

As the young leaves of Osteospermum moniliferum  emerge, they are covered with a cobweb of fine grey fur. Growing up to be green, shiny, leathery, succulent. The berries go from shellacked green to black, finally brown seeds. 

Chrysanthemoides monilifera in our garden on an overcast day
Osteospermum moniliferum  in our garden on an overcast day

My bietou shrub is shaded by next door’s tree and the Spanish reeds, but it does, always have some flowers. 

Macro in a Mason jar with flowers of Chrysanthemoides monilifera
Macro in a Mason jar with
flowers of Osteospermum moniliferum 

With patience and camera in hand, there is usually a bee, beetle or butterfly to capture. For the fine details on plants, I use the Macro in a Mason jar technique

April 2011 Chrysanthemoides monilifera with common hairtail butterfly
April 2011 Osteospermum moniliferum 
with common hairtail butterfly

From PlantZAfrica – Chrysanthemoides, like a Chrysanthemum, meaning ‘yellow flower’; while monilifera means ‘bearing a necklace’ for the shiny fruit around the daisy flower. Only 2 species are in the genus, both endemic to southern and eastern Africa, and with the sweet and edible berries, which separate them from all other daisies / Asteraceae. Found along the coast of the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape, along the Drakensberg, to Zimbabwe. The Afrikaans bietou is from the original Khoi, and San who used the berries as food. 

Dozen for Diana the year round, big picture, foliage effect Top - bietou, garlic buchu, Cape honeysuckle Middle - variegated plectranthus (spurflower), lavender star, strandsalie Bottom - bulbinella, dune crow berry Searsia/Rhus crenata, plakkies
Dozen for Diana
the year round, big picture, foliage effect
Top - bietou, garlic buchu, Cape honeysuckle
Middle - variegated plectranthus (spurflower), lavender star, strandsalie
Bottom - bulbinella, dune crow berry Searsia/Rhus crenata, plakkies

Dozen for Diana the seasonal colour from the flowers Chrysanthemoides monilifera, Agathosma apiculata, Tecoma capensis, Plectranthus madagascariensis Bulbine frutescens, Cotyledon orbiculata, Grewia occidentalis, Salvia africana-lutea
Dozen for Diana
the seasonal colour from the flowers
Osteospermum moniliferum , Agathosma apiculata, Tecoma capensis, Plectranthus madagascariensis
Bulbine frutescens, Cotyledon orbiculata, Grewia occidentalis, Salvia africana-lutea

Ticks all my boxes for the Dozen for Diana. Indigenous. Tough and waterwise, grows easily from cuttings. A splash of yellow from the flowers. Food for insects. I've never seen, birds eating the berries – but we do have fruit eating mousebirds. 

 Dozen for Diana 
What is your September plant? 

Gardens Eye View - Simply the best herbs by Donna in New York State inspires me to plan a border of delectable Italian parsley. 

Plant Postings - Plant of the month by Beth in Wisconsin. Her ground cherries, are my Cape gooseberries. Delicious on both sides of the great pond!

Experiments with plants near London has rediscovered anemones. Tall pale beauties dancing in the shade.

Pictures and text by Diana Studer
AKA Diana of Elephant's Eye (on False Bay)
- wildlife gardening in Porterville,
near Cape Town in South Africa

(If you mouse over teal blue text,
it turns seaweed red.Those are my links.)


  1. All your choices look great together!

  2. Nicely done....and great butterfly shots:) Native is most definitely better....not only for the water and budget but for the wildlife. My garden has come alive in all senses of the word over the past year because I've placed the right plants in the right spots. September plant? I would have to say the Barrel Cactus. Gorgeous blooms right now.

  3. I love Bietou, but it is very enthusiastic in my garden. It is planted on the other side of the driveway, but at least twice a year I get moaned at by my husband and the postman than it needs pruning!

  4. Really exceptional, I've never seen this before and it's quite beautiful. And thanks for all the details of how and what to grow, wondrous to see it all.

  5. Seeing the plant growing well in your locality was all the proof you needed ! How reassuring to know that it would be likely to thrive in your garden if you could replicate the same micro-climate. The shade of a fence , a frost pocket in a little hollow ... I know to my cost what a difference they can make. It is so much easier to pick the right plant for the right place. The wrong plant in the wrong place may survive, but will take a lot of nurturing. Natives will happily thrive.
    Thankyou for an interesting post Diana !

  6. My September plant is Brown-eyed Susans... their bright golden yellow allows my gardens to slip gracefully into Fall. Although this year... I'm begging Summer to linger a little longer.

  7. C. monilifera is a beauty! I agree with Cindy that your monthly choices look great together--which explains why they look great in your garden, too. Thanks for hosting!

  8. Lovely series of photos Diana, especially the close up of the leaf. My September plant would be sedum, such deep colour as we head into fall.

  9. Yellow flower bearing a necklace -- how very lovely! My September plant is similar -- Helianthus microcephalus, perennial sunflower. Or any of my zinnias, each wearing a necklace of stamens. P. x

  10. Diana, I love your close-ups of Chrysanthemoides monilifera! My September plant would be Tricyrtis, commonly called Toad Lily. I will have to do a post on it. My woodland specimen has variegated leaves and flowers that remind me of little orchids.

    And thank you for the link to my Summer Garden Paths post!

  11. My September plants is an aster. They bloom in autumn here and provide food for butterflies. A tough, water wise shrub is such a wise choice, especially when it benefits the environment. Your c. monilifera looks like our native coreopsis. :o) Thanks so much for mentioning my post. :o)

  12. Hello Diana, I'll always love a flower that is popular with hungry insects too, so I'd have to say prolific wattle for September in my part of Australia. Thanks for popping in to my blog too...I'm sloooowly getting back to it! Heidi

  13. I'm sure you find those bushes in the coastal areas around here as well. Will have to check and make sure but I remember them from spending school holidays at Paradise Beach where my grand parents retired years ago.

    1. from me, to you, and on to Zimbabwe - says PlantZAfrica

  14. Your Chrysanthemoides monilifera reminds me of our heliopsis or helianthus...sunny and sensational especially to the pollinators.

  15. Such beauties...and yes Mother Nature roars when she is not pleased with where the plant is living.


  16. choosing a sept plant is hard - there are so many spring flowers competing, saying choose me, choose me! Maybe what Heidi said - spring flowering wattles are hard to beat. But I can't ignore my illicit love for non native plants like wallflowers. That Chrysanthemoides leaf looks so soft and inviting, you just want to stroke it. That plant looks perfect the way Mother Nature has placed it in her seaside garden.

  17. You never run out of plants and ideas, Diana.

    Our hawthorn trees are currently covered in bright red berries and there are lots of trees locally. Our blackberries are . . black (!) but it's seeds I notice more than berries in the wild of our neighbourhood at this time of year.

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  19. Your posts are so informative...I love it!