Pavetta lanceolata is generally found in the summer rainfall areas of our country. This large shrub or small tree is best known for its masses of flowers and the alternative common name of ‘Christmas bush’ refers to its peak blooming time from November to December.
Growing to a height of 5 – 7 m, the tree is evergreen with dense foliage. The leaves are glossy with a dark green colour and have a characteristically spicy potato smell when crushed. The branches have a drooping habit and the bark is light brown to grey with a smooth texture. As the tree matures, the bark becomes finely fissured.
The flowers appear in large clusters of pure white, borne on the ends of the branches. The pincushion-like blooms have long, protruding stamens and are strongly scented. The tree starts flowering from October to January and during this time butterflies and many other insects are drawn to the plant. The flowers are followed by small, black berries that also attract fruit eating birds to the garden.
The Weeping Bride’s Bush is hardy, but will need plenty of water initially and protection from the elements initially. Once established, the tree will tolerate some drought and can be planted in full sun where it will flourish. It is also fairly wind resistant.
As the tree is densely leafy, it can be used as an effective hedge or screening specimen and it will tolerate some light pruning. Planted on its own, or in a small cluster of two or three plants, Pavetta lanceolata can be a strong, focal point in the garden, especially during summer where the ornamental flower show will provide interest.