Scientific Name:
Melianthus major L.
Vernacular Name(s):
Cape honey flower; False castor oil plant; Honey flower; touch-me-not

Shrub to c. 2 m high with stout, soft-wooded, hollow stems and suckering root system. Lvs to 50–(100) cm long, glaucous below. Stipules fused and sheathing, 7–15 cm long, ovate, cuspidate. Rachis winged. Leaflets 11–21, sessile, 8–15 × 3.5–7.5 cm, gradually tapering towards apex, ± folded, regularly and deeply serrate with teeth c. 1 cm long; basal pair smaller. Racemes dense, to c. 40 cm long, puberulent. Pedicels 1–2.5 cm long, dark red, with short glandular hairs. Bracts ovate or narrow-ovate, to 4 cm long, reddish brown, short-acuminate. Fls foetid, dark reddish brown. Anterior calyx segment much < others, gibbous, with short glandular hairs. Posterior calyx segments 2–3 cm long, ovate, with short glandular hairs. Petals much < calyx. Stamens c. 2 cm long. Style 1.5–2 cm long. Capsule 2.5–5 cm long, papery, acutely angled. Seeds 5–6 mm long, ± broad-ellipsoid, keeled, shining black.

[From: Webb et al. (1988) Flora of New Zealand. Volume 4.]


Flowering: Jul.–Apr.

Biosecurity New Zealand 2012: Regional Pest Management Strategies Database.
Connor, H.E. 1977: The Poisonous Plants in New Zealand. Edition 2. Government Printer, Wellington.
Howell, C. 2008: Consolidated list of environmental weeds in New Zealand. DOC Research & Development Series 292: 42.