Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Pyramid Bush, Wooly Pyramid Bush, Tea Bush, Raichie, Broom Weed
Melochia tomentosa

Family: Malvaceae (mal-VAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Melochia (mel-OH-kee-uh) (Info)
Species: tomentosa (toh-men-TOH-suh) (Info)

Synonym:Melochia arida
Synonym:Melochia chamaedrys
Synonym:Melochia chamaedrys
Synonym:Melochia diffusa
Synonym:Melochia turpiniana

4 members have or want this plant for trade.

Alpines and Rock Gardens

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)

18-24 in. (45-60 cm)
24-36 in. (60-90 cm)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)
USDA Zone 10a: to -1.1 C (30 F)
USDA Zone 10b: to 1.7 C (35 F)
USDA Zone 11: above 4.5 C (40 F)

Sun Exposure:
Full Sun

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Color:
Magenta (Pink-Purple)

Bloom Time:
Late Spring/Early Summer
Mid Summer
Late Summer/Early Fall
Mid Fall
Blooms repeatedly

Grown for foliage

Other details:
May be a noxious weed or invasive
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds
Drought-tolerant; suitable for xeriscaping
Self-sows freely; deadhead if you do not want volunteer seedlings next season

Soil pH requirements:
Unknown - Tell us

Patent Information:
Unknown - Tell us

Propagation Methods:
From softwood cuttings
From semi-hardwood cuttings
From seed; direct sow after last frost

Seed Collecting:
Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

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2 positives
No neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive herbs501 On May 15, 2009, herbs501 from Hallettsville, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

I love this plant! It is completely care-free. I do not have an issue with it seeding out, perhaps because it is in a bed that often becomes overwhelmed with an artemisia, ...but that's another story. It blooms all summer, and is definitely attractive to butterflies. It propagates easily from cuttings and is a favorite of those who visit my garden in the warm months.

Update July 22, 2010. I thought I had lost this plant due to our extra cold winter. But, it has come back and is blooming already at only 1 ft. tall. I found a couple of plants growing nearby and dug them. They were attached to the mother plant by a lateral root. I immediately potted up the ones I dug and they wilted right away, but with care, they should make it. They do have a tap root, which makes digging existing plants and getting them to grow elsewhere somewhat difficult.

Positive htop On Jul 22, 2005, htop from San Antonio, TX (Zone 8b) wrote:

This small erect shrub is a member of the Chocolate Family, It grows natively in southern Florida and southern Texas through the West Indies and Central America into Brazil and Colombia. In Texas, the species can be found on sandy or rocky soil in dry streambeds, mesquite thickets and palm groves. It inhabits pinelands in southern Florida. In Brazil, it is thrives in the sandy soils of the coastal plain. Pyramid bush grows in dry areas and adapts to a wide variety of well-drained soils that are derived from igneous and sedimentary rocks. It is an excellent xeriscape plant that grows quickly and provides lots of color in the heat of the summer.

In less than two months, a fair-sized transplant may reach its mature size of two feet by two feet. It requires little water even when establishing itself due to the taproot and lateral roots being formed very quickly. Normally, it is single stemmed; but, it may branch near the base The bark is tan to slate-gray colored with many lenticels and moderately hard. The branches at the outer edges of the plant are slender and somewhat fragile. I have broken them when cleaning mulch from the base of the plant. It will die to the ground during hard freezes; but, it returns very quickly in the spring and attains its mature height and width quickly as well.

The ovate to lanciolate, 1.5 to 10.5 cm long by 0.9 to 8.5 cm wide leaves are covered with a short wooly hair giving the plant a gray flannel look and are attached by short petioles. They have serrated margins. The 8 to 13.5 mm long, 5-petaled blooms are a beautiful bright, violet to violet-pink. It produces pyramidal capsules that are 6 to 9 mm across and which contain reddish brown, 2 mm long seeds.

In a natural habitat, it contributes to wildlife cover, soil stability and bio-diversity. Sheep and goats tend to munch it when it is growing with other native plants they like, but cattle tend to leave it alone. Bees and butterflies love the blooms nectar. A tea can be made from the foliage to treat colds and as an eye wash.

The pyramid bush makes an excellent border plant in areas that do not receive very much water. It is a great choice for rock gardens and wildscapes. With its lovely blooms that are ever present until the first frost, unusual and full foliage and compact size, pyramid bush as a great plant to use in the landscape. It is difficult to find specimens in nurseries. I love mine so much, I am going to buy another one if and when I am able to locate one.

Update: June 29, 2010 - plant was slow to come back from the roots after a very cold winter. It did not sprout up until the daytime temperatures were consistently in the 90s. I have 5 babies that hasve emerged (first time since I have had it. I don't know if they are from seeds or from spreading roots. This plant is quite expensive when purchased from a nursery if you can find it. The other one I bought that was a special order receives more shade and becomes more "leggy". I just cut back some shrub from around it to give it more sun. It can be propagated by burying a stem still attached to the plant in soil. A great plant for hot climates.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Miami, Florida
Hallettsville, Texas
Houston, Texas
San Antonio, Texas
Temple, Texas
Tomball, Texas

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