Ajuntament de Barcelona

Polygala myrtifolia

Miramar Garden and Camí dels Cims

    English name: 
    September bush
    Species characteristics
    Family: 
    Polygalaceae
    Origin: 
    South Africa
    Habitat: 
    Subtropical coastal areas
    Characteristics: 

    Perennial shrub 1.5-1.8 m tall, although it can reach 3 m, with straight and thin but sturdy trunk and dense rounded crown, similar in diameter to the height. The branches are thin but strong and are densely covered by small leaves.

    The leaves, 2.5-3 cm long, are narrow and elongate. Their shapes varies from rounded to oval, with rounded tip. They are smooth and slightly greyish light green on the lower side, darker on the upper side.

    The flowers, de 2.5 cm in diameter, are composed of two big mauve or intense purple petals that surround a kind of greenish white crest. They appear into terminal bunches.

    The fruits, 1 cm wide, are winged flat heart-shaped (almost circular) capsules, containing two seeds about 4 mm long. The seeds' shape is variable (from ovoid to cylindrical) and they have some hairs.

    Flowering time: 
    Spring-autumn
    Uses and properties: 

    September Bush is a decoration plant used in warm areas and can be seen in coastal zones.

    History and curiosities: 

    The scientific name, Polygala myrtifolia, consists of the genus name Polygala, from the Greek πολυγαλον, “dairy”, formed by the prefix πολυ-, “very”, and the noun γάλακτος, “milk”, because it was believed that the plants of this genus favoured the production of milk, and the term myrtifolia, formed by myrtus, “myrtle”, and folia, "leaf", in reference to the similarity of its leaves with the myrtle ones.

    In 19th c., Malayans living in Cape Town, South Africa used bark shavings mixed with water to make an ointment to wash the deceaseds before the burial. Although this use has desappeared, the plant is known in Cape Town area as langelier or langelede, both probably corruptions of the Afrikaans lange lede, “long articulations”.

    For further information: 

    LÓPEZ GONZÁLEZ, Ginés A. Los árboles y arbustos de la Península Ibérica e Islas Baleares. (2 vol.) Madrid: Mundi-Prensa, 2001

    THE ROYAL HORTICULTURAL SOCIETY. Enciclopedia de plantas y flores. Barcelona: Grijalbo, 1996

    http://www.rhs.org.uk