Cancer Bush (Sutherlandia frutescens), packet of 20 seeds


Family:  Legume (Fabaceae)

Hardy to Zones 10 to 12

(Kankerbos, Syn. Lessertia frutescens)  Woody perennial native to South Africa, Botswana and Namibia. Luckily for us who live in the temperate north, this plant does reasonably well in containerized culture and tends to not get too big.  In the wild, the plant can become quite woody and reaches a height of 3 feet.  With its loose sprays of compound, gray-green leaves and large, showy, bright scarlet flowers followed by bladder-like inflated seedpods, Cancer Bush is in high demand as a horticultural oddity and decorative garden plant. Traditional use (Khoi and Nama peoples of South Africa): bitter tonic, colds, influenza, chicken pocks, diabetes, varicosities, piles, inflammations, liver issues, backache and rheumatism.  Cancer.  Source of canavanine. Plant prefers full sun and dry to mesic, very well-drained soils.  We use Cactus mix.  This is a plant of the full sun, and will do best when given a sunny, warm exposure, protected from dew and puddling water.  The plant is quite drought tolerant–when in doubt, don’t water. Thoroughly scarify each seed by rubbing on medium grit sandpaper, then sow in warm soil.  Barely cover and keep barely moist and in the light.  Germ in 10 to 30 days, and ongoing.  Individuate seedlings and pot up singly, then transplant outdoors (if you live in a suitable area, that is) to a spacing of 2 to 3 feet apart.

20 seeds/pkt., Open Pollinated, untreated, NO GMO’s

In stock

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  1. Question

    mitch donahue

    c( sutherlandia c an you provide a recipe for making tea from the leaves of this plant? or is there a better way to use it for general health and longevity?

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    • Richo Cech

      Richo Cech

      Hi Mitch, I grow this more as a curiosity and for the very showy inflated seedpods, so had to go back to one of the primary references “Medicinal Plants of South Africa” by Van Wyk where on page 246 it says “the leaves are mainly used… an old Cape remedy for stomach problems and internal cancers. .. a useful bitter tonic… Khoi and Nama people used decoctions externally to wash wounds and internally for fevers… This book is extensively referenced and recommended. Van Wyk is more or less a genious. Richo

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