If you live within a mile of Waller and Belvedere, and there are no aphids in your garden, you can thank me. They’re all here on this melianthus, which I planted. The lower leaves are furred with a gazillion or so, and there are colonies higher up. Honeydew (aphid spit) coats the leaves of everything nearby, blackening them. A light shake of the plant and aphids fall onto my scalp, a meatier shower than I’m used to. I wonder how they’ll manage the change of residence.
Melianthus means honey bush in Greek. The smell isn’t honey-like; it’s more like an empty shoebox. The roots are poisonous, and possibly the leaves, too, but who’s hungry, besides the aphids? The common name in South Africa—you didn’t know I knew this—is Kruidjie-roer-my-ne. There, where all 5 species are native, sunbirds go crazy for their nectar. I’ve never seen any local nectar-o-phile show interest in the flowers which are sui generis weird, the color of meat left out too long. The flowers give way to a congestion of bladder-like pods, colored a dusty celadon. I halfway expect the stalk to tinkle like an exotic Balinese instrument when I cut it down. Instead, all I hear are the terrified cries of the aphids as their hedge fund collapses.
How last year.