Erica sessiliflora, the white bottlebrush heath or groenheide in Afrikaans, is one of the popular tube-flowered ericas of the Cape. It is an easy to recognize species in a huge genus with some daunting identification challenges.
The erect and woody branched shrub of more than 1 m in height has small needle-like leaves that point upwards, sometimes curve. The greenish yellow to white, long and narrow tubular flowers arranged in a dense spike may reach 3 cm in length. They are hairless and narrow, but may become wider close to the opening than at the base.
The sections with knobby protuberances just below the flowers are sepals protecting seeds from earlier blooming. The plant is unlike many Erica species in its retention of the seed-heads on the plant for several years.
E. sessiliflora grows in damp fynbos from coastal to medium height mountain slopes in the Western and Eastern Cape. This Erica is popular as a garden subject. It may flower all year round, more vigorously from autumn to spring (Baker and Oliver, 1967; www.plantzafrica.com).