Gomphostigma virgatum

Botanical name

Gomphostigma virgatum

Other names

River star; besembossie (Afrikaans); otterbossie (Afrikaans)




A bushy, evergreen, perennial, branched shrub of up to about 2,5 m, growing on stream banks

Description of stem

Silvery grey and flexible branches, four-angled;

Description of leaves

Simple, narrow, opposite and stalkless with a connecting ridge and prominent midrib

Description of flowers

Many small white, scented flowers in summer, emerging from the axils of upper leaves; anthers have purple margins

Desciption of seed/fruit

Cylindric, two-lobed capsules

Description of roots

Easily settled in watery circumstances



Propagation and cultivation

Grown from semi-hardwood cuttings; planted in full sun where ample water supplies are stable; cut branches back before new spring growth




Used to make a medicine for combatting extreme fatigue; the twigs are used to make brooms; the plant is browsed by livestock

Ecological rarity


Pests and diseases



Gomphos = club (Greek), referring to the shape of the stigma; virgatum = twiggy


Edges of streams and watercourses; among the bolders within rivers

Distribution (SA provinces)

Widespread through the eastern and southern parts of the country


South Africa; Zimbabwe; Lesotho; Swaziland


Info (also) from www.plantzafrica.com