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Osteospermum (Osteospermum spinescens)


Click on the "Nutritional aspects" tab for recommendations for ruminants, pigs, poultry, rabbits, horses, fish and crustaceans
Common names 

Rivier draiboos, draiboos, appelbos [Afrikans] (Botha, 1938)


Osteospermum pachypteris DC., Tripteris pachypteris Harv.

Taxonomic information 

While Osteospermum spinescens is now considered to be a synonym of Tripteris pachypteris (USDA, 2019), a study from 1938 (Botha, 1938) considered that Tripteris pachypteris was different from Tripteris spinescens as the plants were extremely similar in appearance except for the presence of spines in T. spinescens.

Related feed(s) 

Osteospermum spinescens is a shrub native to the South African semi-arid veld regions, which is grazed by livestock and wild animals.


Osteospermum spinescens is a small shrub 0.10-0.50 m high (Göhl, 1982; Strother, 2019). Under good conditions, it may reach a height of 0.90-1.10 m, but soil conditions and severity of grazing often limit its height to little more than 0.30 m (Botha, 1938). It has woody branches, stems that can turn spiny, lanceolate leaves, 1-2 cm long, yellow to orange flower heads about 1 cm in diameter on long pedicels, and three-winged fruit (Göhl, 1982; Strother, 2019). The twigs are succulent and have been described as soft and juicy when not lignified (Botha, 1938).


Osteospermum spinescens has been described in the 1930-1940s as one of the best pasture plants, both nutritive and palatable, found in its native range (Botha, 1938). It was then subject to overgrazing. More recent surveys only mention its palatability, which is considered to be low to moderate (Anderson et al., 1987; Du Toit, 2000).


Osteospermum spinescens is native to South Africa and Namibia, where it is part of the veld flora, particularly in the Karoo region (USDA, 2019). It has been naturalized in New South Wales, Australia and in New Mexico, USA (Murray, 2015; Strother, 2019).

In the Karoo, Osteospermum spinescens normally occurs on low-lying ground, generally along the banks of ditches and rivers, in hollows and sometimes on flats. It is very hardy and can withstood excessive grazing. However, observers in the 1930s noted that the strands in the karoo veld in South Africa were suffering a lot from over-grazing wherever it occurred and was rapidly diminishing on many farms (Botha, 1938). Outside its native range, Osteospermum spinescens can be found in disturbed areas (Strother, 2019).

Nutritional aspects
Nutritional attributes 

Osteospermum spinescens has a quite variable composition depending on age and on the selection of the plant parts. Its protein content is moderate to low, varying from 8 to 16.5% DM. Observations in 1930-1931 in South Africa shows a protein content highest in January-May (14-15%) and decreasing during the rest of the year (10-13%) (Henrici, 1932). A sample containing a large proportion of leaves and soft succulent twigs had a relatively high protein content (16.5%) and low crude fibre content (18.1% DM) (Botha, 1938). Other samples, which may include more lignified twigs and less leaves, had almost twice the crude fibre content (26-34% DM) and half the protein (8-9% DM)(Groenewald et al., 1967; Henrici, 1945). According to Botha, 1938, livestock graze the leaves and the succulent twigs preferentially.


There is limited information on the use of Osteospermum spinescens in ruminant feeding. The most complete data come from studies carried out in South Africa in the 1930-1940s where the plant investigated as an important component of the karoo veld. It was then regarded as one of the best pasture plants found in these semi-arid areas (Botha, 1938; Henrici, 1945).


Early studies consider Osteospermum spinescens to be very palatable. The study by Botha, 1938, which describes what appears to be a spineless variety (then named Tripteris pachypteris), indicates that the spineless plants and the spiny plants are equally well grazed, practically throughout the year. In a first trial, the plant was well accepted by the sheep, who ate it completely including the dry twigs. However, for reasons unknown, the sheep refused to eat the plant when it was given to them a week later, though the material seemed identical. More recent studies show that Osteospermum spinescens is grazed by ruminants but is not very palatable, and has a medium-low grazing index value (Anderson et al., 1987; Du Toit, 2000).


Digestibility trials with sheep in South Africa in the 1930-1940s found a moderate to high OM digestibility: 52 and 67% in Botha, 1938 and Henrici, 1945 respectively. The higher digestibility value was obtained with samples containing leaves and succulent twigs (Botha, 1938).



No information seems available in the scientific literature on the use of Osteospermum spinescens for the feeding of domestic rabbits. In South Africa, the riverine rabbit Bunolagus monticularis, a wild endangered species, consider Osteosperum spinescens as a usual feed species (Hughes et al., 2008), but mainly consumed it during the dry season (from May to December) when other green plants are rare. However, the plant is generally avoided by riverine rabbits and has the lowest preference rating among 9 species available in late spring (Duthie, 1989).

Nutritional tables
Tables of chemical composition and nutritional value 

Avg: average or predicted value; SD: standard deviation; Min: minimum value; Max: maximum value; Nb: number of values (samples) used

Main analysis Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Dry matter % as fed 67.4       1  
Crude protein % DM 12.7 2.7 8.3 16.5 14  
Crude fibre % DM 26.1   18.1 33.8 3  
Neutral detergent fibre % DM 48.5         *
Acid detergent fibre % DM 32.6         *
Ether extract % DM 3.4   3.2 3.6 3  
Ash % DM 13.7   9.1 16.7 3  
Gross energy MJ/kg DM 17.5         *
Minerals Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
Calcium g/kg DM 10.4       1  
Phosphorus g/kg DM 2.4       1  
Ruminants nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
OM digestibility, ruminants % 64.9   51.5 66.7 2 *
Energy digestibility, ruminants % 62         *
DE ruminants MJ/kg DM 10.9         *
ME ruminants MJ/kg DM 8.7         *
Nitrogen digestibility, ruminants % 66.8       1  
Rabbit nutritive values Unit Avg SD Min Max Nb  
DE rabbit MJ/kg DM 7.7         *
Energy digestibility, rabbit % 44         *

The asterisk * indicates that the average value was obtained by an equation.


Botha, 1938; Groenewald et al., 1967; Henrici, 1932; Henrici, 1945

Last updated on 08/11/2019 12:36:03

Datasheet citation 

Heuzé V., Tran G., Hassoun P., Lebas F., 2019. Osteospermum (Osteospermum spinescens). Feedipedia, a programme by INRAE, CIRAD, AFZ and FAO. https://feedipedia.org/node/119 Last updated on November 8, 2019, 12:46