Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Melianthus minor L.

Similar to Melianthus major L., which see, but less robust, downy rather than smooth, leaves to about 20cm, and red-black flowers in racemes to 40cm long.  To 2m.  [RHSD, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘There are few flowers that do not secrete from some kind of glandular substance, honey, or nectar, to a greater or smaller amount; in those of the present genus, this liquid is particualarly abundant, even dropping from the flowers of the major, in considerable quantity; in the present species it flows not so copiously, but is retained in the lowest part of the blossom, and is of a dark brown colour, an unusual phenomenon.  There are only two species of the genus described, the major and the minor, both of which are cultivated in our nurseries; the major is by far the most common, the most hardy, and the most ornamental plant. […] It is a native of the Cape, and, according to Mr. Aiton, was cultivated by the duchess of Beaufort, in 1708; is propagated readily by cuttings.’  [BM t.301/1795].  The RHS Dictionary (1951) considers the plant figured in the Botanical Magazine to be Melianthus comosus Vahl rather than M. minor.  

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.674/1843].


Published Mar 21, 2009 - 05:19 PM | Last updated Mar 24, 2010 - 03:16 PM

Illustrated are pinnate, toothed leaves and a droopy raceme of red flowers .  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.301, 1795.

Melianthus minor L. | BM t.301/1795 but this plant is possibly Melianthus comosus | BHL

Family Melianthaceae
Region of origin

South Africa

Common Name

Lesser Honey bush

Name in the Camden Park Record

Melianthus minor 

Confidence level high