Stories from Langthorns - Sparmannia africana
The House Lime, Sparrmannia africana, is not hardy in the U.K. as it needs a winter temperature above 7°C. But it has still gained the RHS Award of Garden Merit (AGM) and is a plant of great beauty and interest. It is a large, fast-growing, evergreen shrub native to the open woodland of South Africa (although the leaves do not look typically evergreen, being soft and downy, resembling our Linden, or Lime Tree).You could grow it for those attractive, large and sculptural leaves alone, but in late winter it produces its crowning glory; lovely, sweetly scented white flowers with stamens of yellow and red that resemble powder puffs. If you were to touch those stamens they would bristle and puff out (a process called haptonasty), which is considered a way to increase pollination by pushing it outwards onto the possible pollinator.
Anders Sparrmann doesn’t seem to have had the recognition that he deserves, and now every time I look at that lovely House Lime, I think of a brave explorer, excited by all that the natural world had to offer, sharing his knowledge with his compatriots, two hundred years before his time.