Nymania capensis

Botanical name

Nymania capensis

Other names

Chinese lanterns; Klapperbos (Afrikaans)




An erect, evergreen shrub or small tree, usually around 3 m in height, but occasionally up to double that

Description of stem

Often multistemmed, older ones grey, younger ones light brown

Description of leaves

Simple, narrowly lanceolate, clustered or fascicled around the twig ends, otherwise alternate; green and leathery; petiole 2 mm, base tapering, apex rounded, margin entire

Description of flowers

The single axillary flowers are red or pink, tubular to bell-shaped, the floral parts occur in fours; they appear in winter

Desciption of seed/fruit

Puffed-up or balloon-like, papery seed capsules in four segments; strikingly colourful in cream, light rose to deep pink with a course texture; more flowery than the flowers; appear square from the top or bottom, round from the side; through spring and summer; the seeds are brown, pea-shaped

Description of roots



Specimens from the Richtersveld are said to have brighter red flowers

Propagation and cultivation

Grows easily from seed, not from cuttings; does not survive much watering or high rainfall; take care upon transplantation of young plants not to upset the roots in any way


Very drought resistant, somewhat frost resistant


Attractive garden plant, but not common due to difficulties in achieving its survival in varying habitats

Ecological rarity


Pests and diseases





Arid, stony scrub-veld in mainly (low) winter rainfall areas

Distribution (SA provinces)

Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape


South Africa, Namibia

Nymania capensis close-up: Photographed by Johannes Vogel

Nymania capensis fruit: Photographed by Johannes Vogel