Cape honey flower
Melianthaceae - Melianthus major

What does it look like?

Cape honey flower is a clump-forming shrub, with stout, rough, hollow stems and a suckering root system.  It has frond-like leaves, divided into distinctively folded leaflets, that are covered in grey, hairy down (especially underneath). Tall, erect flower stalks have foul smelling, dark reddish-brown flowers from July to April, followed by inflated, papery, sharply-angled seed capsules containing long, shiny black seeds. 

Cape honey flower grows in a variety of habitats, including: sand dunes, sheltered coastal and steep areas, estuaries, inshore islands, disturbed lowland forest margins, shrubland, fernland, and especially on the east coast. It is also found in gardens, waste places and along roadsides.

Why is it a problem?

Forms a dense cover of 2m in open conditions & impedes regeneration under 50% canopy cover. Competes with understorey natives under tall kanuka/mänuka forest. Toxic to stock.


Control Methods

Physical control

  • Dig out small plants and dispose of roots at a refuse transfer station, burn, or bury deeply.

Herbicide control

  • Cut down and paint stump all year round with metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg) 5g/L or Tordon Brushkiller 200ml/L. Follow up on suckering shoots continuously.
  • Spray large sites spring-summer: metsulfuron-methyl (600g/kg) 5g/10L or Tordon Brushkiller 25ml/10L. Add penetrant. Follow up regularly to check for root regrowth.



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