Common names and etymology
Other vernacular names for this species used in South Africa include African sugarbush,African white sugarbush, deciduous sugarbush or white sugarbush. In isiZulu and Ndebele it is known as isiqalaba, in the Northern Sotho language it is called segwapi, and in Venda tshizungu. In Shona it may be called mubonda, mumhonda, or musitsuru. In Afrikaans this species is known by the vernacular names of Afrika-witsuikerbos, grootsuikerbos, groot-suikerbos, suikerbos or witsuikerbos.
It has leaves which are oblong to elliptic, and often distinctly sickle-shaped. The leaves are glabrous (hairless) when mature, except for a few hairs near the base of the blade. The leaves are coloured light green to blue-green. The prominent midrib of the leaves is coloured somewhat yellowish.
It usually has solitary flower heads, a specialised type of inflorescence. These flower heads are quite variable in form, but can grow up to 11 cm in diameter. The flower heads are densely hairy and have a very strong scent. The outer involucral bracts range in colour from pink, to greenish-white, to white. The inner bracts are covered in silver hairs and are coloured pale green. The margins of the bracts may or may not have rusty-coloured hairs sprouting from them.
The fruit is a hairy nutlet.
It is similar to P. welwitschii, but this species has 60mm diameter flower heads which are usually clustered together in groups of three or four, and young leaves densely covered in hairs, with older leaves retaining pubescence at their base.
It is widely distributed in Africa, from Eritrea in the north, to KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa. It does not occur in the Sahel of West Africa. Countries it occurs in include Sudan (including South Sudan), Eritrea,Ethiopia, Burundi,Rwanda,Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo,Zambia, Angola, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, eSwatini and South Africa.
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- Mtshali, H.; Rebelo, A.G.; Lötter, M.; Helme, N.A.; Holmes, P.M.; Forshaw, C.N.; Richardson, S.H.; Raimondo, D.; Euston-Brown, D.I.W.; Victor, J.E.; Foden, W.; Ebrahim, I.; Bomhard, B.; Oliver, E.G.H.; Johns, A.; van der Venter, J.; van der Walt, R.; von Witt, C.; Low, A.B.; Paterson-Jones, C.; Rourke, John Patrick; Hitchcock, A.N.; Potter, L.; Vlok, J.H.; Pillay, D. (27 May 2019). "African Sugarbush". Red List of South African Plants. version 2020.1. South African National Biodiversity Institute. Retrieved 26 July 2020.
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