Agathosma gonaquensis, commonly known as hottentot buchu, is a compact, leafy shrub sometimes exceeding 1 m in height. The plant is slow-growing from a single stem, branching and spreading to a rounded shape.
The small white flowers grow in dense clusters at stem tips. Up to 12 flowers form one flowerhead, each flower about 5 mm in diameter. Flowering comes mainly in spring, but may already start in late winter and continue through midsummer. The long stamens are red at some stage of flower development.
The Eastern Cape distribution of the species is limited to a small (and shrinking) area between Port Elizabeth and Uitenhage, where it grows at low elevations in open grassveld. This is land where people have made their presence felt forcefully, exerted their influence extensively and intensely, but not always intentionally.
This plant has become directly useful to people as they learnt things about it. The leaves have for long been used in treating hay fever and colds, not only by Khoi people as the common name would suggest.
A hardy and decorative plant, it lives well in sandy soil, little water and much wind. So, it has found favour in the garden and to stabilise soil. Useful things should not be destroyed, right? Still, its population is decreasing, now near the brink (Bond and Goldblatt, 1984; iSpot; www.plantzafrica.com).