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.

Plumbago capensis Thunb.

Half hardy, scandent evergreen shrub, sometimes grown as a climber, with slender branching stems, oblong leaves, to 7cm long, and dense, terminal, corymb-like racemes of long-tubed, sky-blue flowers, to 4cm long, in summer and autumn.  To 6m.  [RHSE, Hortus].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The flowers are extremely delicate and beautiful: they appeared with us in the month of May, and in different plants were continued in succession throughout the greater part of the summer.’  [LBC no.295, 1818]. 

‘The species is not found in the Hortus Kewensis, though cultivated in the Kew Collection many years back. It seems however to have been confounded in that garden with tristis, for we find a sample that had flowered there, matched in the Banksian Herbarium with a spontaneous one of Plumbago tristis, a very distinct species, and known only by the sample collected at the Cape by the late Mr. Francis Masson. Seeds of this species were lately received by Lady de Clifford from the Cape of Good Hope; and from these the plant from which our drawing is taken, has been raised at the Nursery of Messrs. Colville in the King’s Road, Chelsea.  We believe it had been long ago lost in this country.  Very ornamental when in flower, of easy culture, and a free blower.’  [BR f.417/1819]. 

Introduced to Britain in 1818.  [JD].  ‘A handsome little greenhouse shrub. Native of the Cape of Good Hope. Found by Thunberg near Kabeljaus Rivier, where it flowers in November and December. Communicated by Messrs. Colville and Son, in August 1819.’ [BM t.2110/1819].

History at Camden Park

Listed only in the 1857 catalogue [T.765/1857].  Both blue and white-flowered forms are common in the gardens, readily colonising vacant ground to the point of being a weed.


Plumbago capensis Willd. ex Boiss. (1848) = Plumbago tristis Ait.

Published Mar 24, 2009 - 04:52 PM | Last updated Jul 29, 2010 - 04:50 PM

Shown are slender stems, oblong leaves and racemes of long-tubed, sky-blue flowers. Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.2110, 1819.

Plumbago capensis Thunb. | BM t.2110/1819 | BHL

Family Plumbaginaceae
Region of origin

South Africa


Plumbago auriculata Lam.

Common Name

Cape leadwort

Name in the Camden Park Record

Plumbago capensis

Confidence level high