The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Black-eyed Susan

Afrikaans name: Swartoognooi

Black-eyed Susan flower

The Black-eyed Susan gets a simple, but attractive, flower

Photo © Steven Herbert

Thunbergia alata

The Black-eyed Susan is a well-known plant that is popular with gardeners. It has an attractive orange flower with a blackish centre. I think that it is its simple beauty that makes it so popular! Various colour varieties have been cultivated by nurseries but naturally occurring plants always have orange flowers.

This sprawling or climbing creeper can reach a length of 4 metres. It grows quickly and dies off after a single season. The leaves are somewhat heart- or arrow-shaped and are hairy. In warmer areas they may flower at any time during the year.

They are mostly found along forest margins in areas of full or partial sun. It is tolerant of a wide range of conditions, but it does not handle frost well.

Black-eyed Susan leaves

Photo © Steven Herbert

It is found along the eastern regions of South Africa from Port Elizabeth to eastern Limpopo. It is native to Africa but has spread to various regions including Hawaii and Australia which have both declared it an invasive species.

References and further reading

What Flower is That? Summer - Author: Hazel Stokes - Published: 1971 - Page: 47

Sasol First Field Guide to Wild Flowers of Southern Africa - Author: John Manning - Published: 1999 - Page: 17

Sappi Wild Flower Guide - Mpumalanga and Northern Province - Author: Jo Onderstall - Published: 1996 - Page: 188

Indigenous Garden Plants of Southern Africa - Author: Glenice Ebedes - Published: 2017 - Page: 158

Indigenous Beginnings - Author: Anneke Kearney - Published: 2008 - Page: 74

Gardening with Indigenous Shrubs - Author: David and Sally Johnson, Geoff Nichols - Published: 2002 - Page: 105

Field Guide to Wild Flowers of South Africa - Author: John Manning - Published: 2009 - Page: 436

Field Guide to the Wild Flowers of South Africa (updated edition) - Author: John Manning - Published: 2019 - Page: 434

A Field Guide to Wild Flowers in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Region - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 2005 - Page: 76

For more info: SANBI


List of South African Plants

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