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Saturday, 17 July 2010

Bloomsbury's Exotic Blooms

For a glimpse of South Africa, head to the British Museum in Bloomsbury, where Kew has created a colourful front garden with plants from the Cape region. They range from these agapanthus, with their lilac-coloured pollen, to the Quiver tree, so called because the San people have traditionally used its branches to create quivers for their arrows. According to the explanatory boards dotted among the greenery, South Africa has 22,000 different plant species - two-thirds found nowhere else on earth.

Surprisingly, these are not Wild West cactus, but euphorbias. The San mixed their milky sap with extract from the Diamphidia beetle to poison their arrow tips. But if correctly applied, the sap can be used medicinally, and was a traditional treatment for cancer.

The garden will remain until October 10, and visits are free of charge.

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