This very appealing and decorative garden plant, x Ruttyruspolia is a partly deciduous, scrambling shrub. Pruning can contain the scrambling habit so that the plant forms a neat shrub. The mauve to deep pink flowers are borne in large clusters. It is a prolific flowerer and has a long flowering season.

Can be used individually to add colour and interest to a flowerbed or planted in mass in a large landscape. Plant can be shaped to form an attractive hedge.

Ruttyruspolia flower spike

xRuttyruspolia bears beautiful clusters of pink to mauve flowers.

Family:                       ANACARDIACEAE        (Mackya family).

Name Derivation:

  • x Ruttyruspolia  –  the ‘x’ indicates that the plant is a hybrid, a cross between Ruttya ovata and Ruspolia hypercrateriformis; ‘Rutty’ from Ruttya, after Dr John Rutty, an Irish naturalist (1695 – 1779) and Ruspolia after Prince Ruspoli an Italian explorer who died while hunting elephants in Somali.
  • The parent plants of this natural hybrid are of two plants of different genera.
  • ‘Phyllis van Heerden’ in honour of the woman who first drew this plant to the attention of botanists.

Common Names:          Ruttyruspolia (Eng & Afr).


  • A semi-deciduous scrambling.

Size:                                   2 – 3 m by 2 – 5 m.


  • Flowers are borne on a cone-shaped spike forming a showy, tight flower head.
  • Flowers start flowering from the bottom of the spike with new flowers opening above the older flowers.
  • Each flower is tubular opening to a five-lobed ‘face’.

Colour:                                   Pale pink, mauve to deep pink.

Ruttyruspolia in flower

xRuttyruspolia is free flowering and can make a very attractive garden shrub.

Ruttyruspolia flower spike

The flowers and flower-spikes of xRuttyruspolia are very attractive.

Flowering Months:          Oct – Apr.

Fragrance:                          Flowers are not scented.


  • Semi-deciduous.
  • Simple leaves, mostly obovate to broadly oblanceolate, spiraled at ends of branchlets.
  • The leaves often colour to yellow in autumn.
  • Leaves are shiny dark (blue-) green above, paler below with translucent veins below.

 Thorns:                               No thorns.

Fruit:                                    Do not produce seeds nor fruit.

 In the Garden:

  • With its attractive flowers and long flowering season, this shrub brings lots of cheer to the garden.
  • Single plants in a mixed bed of shrubs will add interest and colour.
  • In large gardens or open spaces, it can be grouped to make an impressive fill.
  • They can be used to form a screen.
  • A good plant for a wildlife-friendly garden, attracting birds and insects.
  • Makes a very good container plant in a large pot in a sunny position on a patio or in a courtyard.
  • May be planted close to paving, walls, or even pools and ponds.
  • Medium fast grower.
  • A good, long lasting cut flower.
Ruttyruspolia flowers

Without doubt this beautiful shrub deserves a place in any garden.

xRuttyaruspolia flowers

The colour of the flowers of xRuttyruspolia may vary between plants, but they are always beautiful.

Soil Needs:                         A well-drained soil.


  • May need pruning to maintain the required shape.
  •  Prune back in spring to prevent it from getting too woody.
  • Feed with organic fertilizer and mulch with compost.
  • Protect young plants against cold.

Cold Hardiness:                    Cold hardy, but a little frost sensitive when young.

Water Requirements:         Drought hardy, but thrives on regular summer water.         

Light Requirements:           Full sun or partial shade.

Space Requirements:          Plant 1,5 – 3 m apart

Roots:                                        The roots are not aggressive.

Birds:                    Insectivorous birds are attracted to the insects that come to the flowers and leaves.

Butterflies and other Insects:   Bees, adult butterflies and moths feed from the flowers.

Medicinal:           Not recognized as a medicinal plant.

Poisonous:          Not poisonous.

Notes of interest:

  • Ruttyruspolia has an interesting history. This plant was first seen in the Whylliespoort in the Zoutpansberg mountains by Mrs. Phyllis van Heerden in 1957. She collected samples and sent them to the National Herbarium in Pretoria. The plant could not be matched with any existing species, but it was suspected that it was a natural hybrid between plants from two species of different genera, Ruttyia ovata and Ruspolia hypocrateriformis. It was only after artificially crossing the suspected parent plants that the theory was proven. It was then named to honour Mrs. Van Heerden.
Ruttyruspolia shrub in flower

A very showy and attractive garden plant, xRuttyruspolia.

Natural Distribution:

  • Found only in Limpopo province, and only where the 2 parent plants both occur.

Natural Habitat:

  • Open woodland.



Fabian, A & Germishuizen, G       Wild Flowers of Northern South Africa    1997    Fernwood Press      Vlaeberg

Joffe, P & Oberholzer, T                Creative Gardening with Indigenous Plants  2nd Edition    2012      Briza Publications    Pretoria


Smithis, SJ                xRuttyaruspolia ‘Phullis van Heerden     2012                  National Herbarium, Pretoria

© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2020.