Flowers and the bladder fruit of Narrow Leafed Cotton Bush [Comphocarpus fruticosus]

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Comments (8)

Ian Stehbens on January 5, 2009

This plant, a native of South Africa is a noxious weed in Australia. But to rural children it is quite attractive for three reasons:

  1. When pressed or clapped between the hands, the bladder fruit pop! And that is fun.

  2. The internal seed fibre is very smooth and silky and that is nice to feel.

  3. The Wanderer Butterflies [Danaus chrysippus petilia] lay their eggs on this plant and the strongly coloured and striped caterpillars are readily found eating the leaves. But better still they attach as chrysalises to the plant, so here is a natural science laboratory for children, who can observe caterpillars, chrysalises and emerging butterflies.

Some childhood memories being replayed here! As Julie Anthony sang, "These are a few of my favourite things".

Thank you Mira for your appreciative understanding.


Erik van den Ham on January 5, 2009

Hello Ian this beautiful seed pods are frequently sold in flower shops in Holland.

Cheers, Erik

Ian Stehbens on January 5, 2009

Truly, Eric?? Where are they grown, in Holland among the tulip bulbs or are they coming from Mediterranean world? Do you have any idea?

I have never seen anyone use them among cut flowers here, for they are regarded as pests, except by children.

I must pick some and have Mother arrange them one day when next I am "home" in my childhood valley. That will be novel.

Kind regards,


Erik van den Ham on January 5, 2009

yeah, I´m not sure but I think the grow them in glasshouses. Not outside anyway, but they can just as easily be imported from somewhere. I´ll will try to find that out for you.


Amelia Royan on January 6, 2009

The seed heads look rather similar to Love in the Mist or Nigella, which is sold in flower shops here in the UK for the ladies who are into such genteel hobbies.

Your story reminds of the popping of the seed-heads of Policeman's Helmet a member of the Impatiens family, and a big pest of our native waterways in the UK. They pop quite loudly if they are only slightly touched and the seed heads are ripe, like the others in the family. People think they shouldn't be culled, but they are now taking over from the indigenous species.

I just love to read your comments Ian, always so informative. I'm learning so much on this wonderful site.

Greetings, Amelia

Ian Stehbens on January 7, 2009

I can't say that I have ever noticed "love in the mist" in my UK wanderings, Amelia. So it is nice to be informed. Wikipedia have a nice picture of the plant so I can see what you mean. Isn't it mean to turn something as special as "love in the mist" into "devil in a cage", which I read is an alternative common (I hope not so common) name?

Thanks for the delightful and informative chats, Amelia.


Amelia Royan on January 7, 2009

And so my education continues Ian. I have never heart of it being called "devil in a cage". You would probably have to visit a gentle English garden to see it growing Ian. It is only an annual, but quite prolific. :)

Best, Amelia

Ian Stehbens on January 8, 2009

I think we can neatly forget the unpleasant names, Amelia. I like "love in the mist" as its name. Both names are quite imaginative though.

I guess that while our cotton bush is a declared noxious weed, the child in me still wants to see it self propogating for the sake of generations of children yet unborn.


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Photo details

  • Uploaded on January 4, 2009
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    by Ian Stehbens