Lessertia frutescens (L.) Goldblatt & J.C.Manning

Cancer Bush

Strelitzia 9: 708 (2000) APNI

Taxonomic status:Accepted

Occurrence status:Present

Establishment means:Sparingly established

Hoary, soft-wooded shrub to c. 1 m high; stems ribbed. Leaves 6–9 cm long; leaflets 7–25, elliptic to oblong or narrowly obovate, 3–15 mm long, 2–6 mm wide, apices truncate or emarginate, upper surface grey-green, glabrous, lower surface pubescent; stipules to c. 2 mm long. Racemes 2–8-flowered; pedicle 5–6 mm long; bracts triangular, 1–2 mm long; bracteole c. 1 mm long; flowers 25–30 mm long; calyx 8–9 mm long, pubescent; petals scarlet or red; standard oblong, c. 20 mm long, c. 14 mm wide, recurved, shortly clawed; wings elliptic, 7–9 mm long; keel longer than standard. Pod ovoid-oblong, 3–5 cm long, 1–2 cm wide, inflated, chartaceous, hyaline; seeds to 15, cordate to reniform, 2.5–3 mm long, green. Flowers Aug.–Jan.

*Gold, *MuM. Also naturalised WA, SA, NSW. Native to South Africa. Recorded in near Wedderburn and Robinvale, but it is unclear if plants have persisted at either site.

The common name refers to its purported benefit in treating some cancers. The efficacy of this treatment is under investigation.

Created by: Andre Messina, 2016-05-06
Updated by: Val Stajsic, 2019-11-11
Hero image
Distribution map
life Life
kingdom Plantae
phylum Tracheophyta
superorder Rosanae
order Fabales
family Fabaceae
genus Lessertia
Higher taxa


Source: AVH (2014). Australia's Virtual Herbarium, Council of Heads of Australasian Herbaria, <http://avh.chah.org.au>. Find Lessertia frutescens in AVH ; Victorian Biodiversity Atlas, © The State of Victoria, Department of Environment and Primary Industries (published Dec. 2014) Find Lessertia frutescens in Victorian Biodiversity Atlas
  Bioregion Occurrence status Establishment means
Murray Mallee present introduced
Goldfields present introduced

State distribution

Distribution map
Western Australia
Northern Territory
South Australia
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory