Along with sight, sound and smell, touch is an underrated sense that we take for granted. For many, the various textures of plants play an important part in stress relief.
If you cannot see the lush green scape, then feeling and smelling your surroundings become a lifeline. So why not add a little fluff to your life?
Why are plants fluffy?
The fluffy texture may be attractive, but its purpose is much more fundamental than enticing you to touch it. In some cases, the hairs, or trichomes to be more exact, is a form of deterrent to herbivores. They steer clear from eating fluffy plants.
Another important role they fulfil is as a natural sunscreen. The trichomes reflect excess sunlight, and therefore heat, away from the plant while holding onto moisture.
To touch or not to touch?
A small number of plants contain natural chemicals as a form of deterrent. These can cause allergic reactions, pain or irritation. It is advisable to select tactile plants that are both human and pet friendly.
If you are unsure as to what to choose, then why not select from the following categories.
Shrubs and grasses
Nothing quite beats the feeling of running your fingers through the grass as you walk through an open savanna. A close second would be the wonderfully fragrant and fluffy fynbos that call the Cape home.
For a comprehensive article on grasses see below:
In addition, we have selected some beautiful fluffy shrubs that won’t mind if you pet them all day:
Velvety leaves of the Princess flower (Tibouchina urvilleana).
Groundcovers and Creepers
Well now who said a tree needs to be plain? Several trees produce trichomes to throw off predators. One of the most beautiful blooming trees is the Black Witch-hazel.
Black Witch-hazel (Trichocladus crinitus) can grow inside a dense forest canopy with little light and the craziest of flowers.
If you prefer something leafy, then why not opt for African hemp (Sparmannia africana
). It's big blooms and fluffy foliage means you can fall into it without so much as a scratch. Likewise, the stiffer but no less tactile leaves of the Butterfly Cushionbush (Oldenburgia grandis
) provides a statement in any garden.
Fluffy emerging leaves of the Butterfly cushionbush (Oldenburgia grandis).
Go out and create a garden for the senses! It might just be a gem in disguise once you close your eyes.