What is Coleonema?

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  • Written By: Alex Tree
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 06 November 2019
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Coleonema is the name given to a variety of evergreen shrubs native to South Africa. There are eight species under the Coleonema genus. Filmy in appearance and frail in structure, these flowering plants often tend to have slender branches and slim leaves. Their leaves are known to let off a scented aroma when brushed or bruised. This genus produces signature tiny white flowers that are borne liberally from spring to winter.

Coleonema album is a compact shrub that produces small, dainty flowers. It grows erectly and is finely branched, developing new shoots at the tips of aged branches. Its bark is grayish in color, often rough and with horizontal leaf scars. The flowers bloom in a great plethora and are often used for decorative purposes. When the flowers are in full bloom, this shrub looks like a bush of white cloud.

Coleonema aspalathoides forms a dense shrub that grows in an erect position, starting from around 1.5 feet (0.5 m) to 3 feet (1 m) in height. It has needle-like, aromatic green leaves that are more subtly scented than other species in the same family. Flowers from this shrubbery are bright pink in color and grow in great abundance. Seeds are expelled out of the plant when they ripen, which is a phenomenon known as ballistic dispersal.


Coleonema calycinum is one of the fastest growing species of the family. This shrub stands from a single stem at ground level, and the branches are numerous. It can grow to a height of around 6.5 feet (2 m) and is the tallest in its family. The plants are more commonly known as the broom buchu, as their branches are used to make brooms. This plant also produces a scent similar to that of rum.

Coleonema pulchellum grows into an erect, dense shrub at the maximum height of 3 feet (1 m). It forms a single base stem with many long, slender branches. Its leaves are needle-like and broad and can grow as long as 0.3 inches (1 cm). Star-shaped blooms are formed and crowded toward the top of the branches.

The Coleonema genus is more likely to be found in warm areas. It does not grow well in places with excessive humidity, as it can be affected with fungal problems. This variety of shrubbery is often used in flower arrangements and decorations. It is also called a confetti bush and breath of heaven.


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