Manochlamys albicans, commonly known in Afrikaans as spanspekbos (cantaloupe bush or sweet melon bush), sometimes bobbejaanseep (baboon soap) and also hondebossie (dogs’ little bush), is a vigorous, branched shrub that grows to 2 m in height.
Although the genus is monotypic, containing only this one species, the plant has become well-known. Many diverse common names indicate a presence of the plant in the minds of particularly rural and farming people that found it of interest in the past.
M. albicans grows tiny yellow flowers. Yellow-green bracts enclose the small globular fruits bunched above the leaves. This fruiting mode distinguishes the plant from other grey-leaved shrubs of the Atriplex genus belonging to the same family and sometimes sharing the habitat.
The fruit bracts exude a sweet melon scent when crushed, hence the spanspekbos vernacular name. One could imagine what dogs might do to the bush, but not so easily how the baboons are connected. They might eat the fruits, but the name suggests washing! Some folklore dies with the old folk.
The species distribution is in the Western and Northern Cape into Namibia, as well as eastwards into the Eastern Cape, a little beyond the Little Karoo.
The plant's habitat is loam and saline soils on stony hillsides, riverbeds and disturbed ground like roadsides. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Vlok and Schutte-Vlok, 2010; Wikipedia; http://pza.sanbi.org; http://redlist.sanbi.org).