Melianthus major

Cape honey flower

Family: Melianthaceae

Origin: South Africa

Close up of a cape honey flower with its red stamen and flower.
The flowers smell foul and produce large amounts of nectar.
Photo credit: Weedbusters

Regional Pest Management Plan (RPMP) status

  • Whole region — Sustained control
  • Hauraki Gulf Controlled Area Notice pest

View more about the RPMP statuses

General description

Evergreen perennial shrub < 2 m tall. Stems are rough, soft-wooded and hollow. Leaves are frond-like, < 1 m long and divided into deeply folded, serrated leaflets that are covered in grey hairy down.

Flowers are red/brown, foul-smelling and borne on long, erect flower stalks in July – April. Seed capsules are papery and contain long black seeds.

What you need to know

To help protect our environment:

  • You must not breed, distribute, release or sell Cape honey flower within the Auckland region.
  • You must not plant Cape honey flower within the Auckland region, unless you are transferring an existing plant on your land to another location within the boundaries of the same property.
  • You must destroy any Cape honey flower on land that you occupy if it has been planted in breach of the above rules and you are directed to do so by an authorised person.


Coastal areas, sand dunes, forest margins, shrubland, fernland, roadsides, wasteland.


Seeds dispersed by wind and water. Vegetative spread from suckers. Human-mediated dispersal through dumping of garden waste.

Impact on environment

Forms dense stands, displacing native plants. Highly poisonous to humans and livestock.


Site Management

Follow up treated areas 3 times per year. Encourage natural regeneration of native plants or replant treated areas where possible after 2-3 treatments to establish dense ground cover and minimise reinvasion.

Recommended approaches

Physical control

Method: Dig out.

Plant parts requiring disposal: Seeds and roots.

Disposal options: Remove to greenwaste or landfill if practical.


Biocontrol is currently not available for this species.

Community agrichemical control recommendations

No qualifications: Cut stump and paste freshly cut base of stems with metsulfuron gel.

Basic Growsafe certified: Cut stump and spray freshly cut base with 1g metsulfuron-methyl per 1 L of water.

Certified Handler/Experienced agrichemical user: Foliar spray with 5g metsulfuron-methyl per 10L of water and 20ml penetrant.

Caution: When using any herbicide or pesticide please read the label thoroughly to ensure that all instructions and safety requirements are followed.

Seed capsules of the Cape honey flower.
Seed capsules are 2-5 cm long and papery containing long, shiny black seeds.
Clump of cape honey flower in a bush setting.
Cape honey flower is a clump-forming shrub.
Close up of new leaves of a cape honey flower.
Cape honey flower has large frond-like leaves that are covered in grey fuzz, especially the underside.
The beginning of a flower of the cape honey flower plant.
Cape honey flowers are tall, on erect stalks and have foul smelling, dark reddish-brown flowers.
Photo credit: Weedbusters