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Dais cotinifolia

(Pompon Tree)

This small, fast growing, drought and frost resistant tree has a lovely rounded, leafy crown. It can be single- or multi-stemmed, with the brown stems covered in small speckles of whitish cork. In very cold areas they are deciduous, but in warmer climates they only lose their leaves for a short time at the end of winter. The trees flower in early summer and the new flower buds look like lollypops. This is a wonderful tree for the garden as the flowers last for a month and they are useful in flower arrangements. Place a thick layer of mulch or compost around the base of the tree as this helps to keep the soil moist and cool, suppresses weed growth and slowly releases nutrients into the soil. It attracts butterflies. The bark is stripped and used for whips, binding or plaited into rope. They do not have aggressive roots so can be planted 2 meters from a building or a pool and is suitable for townhouse gardens. It is fast growing, at about 1 meter a year. It prefers full sun and doesn't seem happy near the coast. An admirer who saw a tree in flower, took seed back to Holland where it was grown in 1757. It was named by one of the greatest botanists, Linnaeus.

Dombeya burgessae

(Pink Wild Pear)

This decidous shrub or small tree grows to a height of 4m and it is a very fast growing. The leaves of this tree are large, velvety, soft and lobed reminiscent of grape leaves. It tolerates both light frost and periods of drought. The pink flowers open in Autumn and make a lovely show. I saw it planted on a wire support above a patio, so all the pink flowers made a pink ‘roof’ and it was quite spectacular. The bark and leaves are eaten by Black Rhino. The bark is used for fibre. This is the larval host plant for the Ragged Skipper and the Buff-tipped Skipper butterflies and moths. Named for Joseph Dombey 1742-1794, a French naturalist, physician, botanist and traveller. His research into the cinchona plant which produces quinine. He wrote numerous books that were only published once he had died. Sometimes his specimens were captured and sent to the British Museum instead of the French one. They were also confiscated. On a trip to the USA they were struck by a storm and never arrived. He was captured and imprisoned, for a ransom, in the West Indies where he died in jail.

Indigofera jucunda ( frutescens and cylindrica)

(River Indigo)

This tree was originally called Indigofera frutescens. It is a small evergreen tree which is frost resistant and will thrive in the sun or semi-shade. The delicate pink flowers open in summer which makes a stunning sight. Eve Palmer describes them as "pretty things all lightness and grace". They are pollinated by bees. It is useful for containers and is a popular garden tree. It can be cut back to make a multi stemmed shrub or left as a single stemmed tree. It produces strong wood and is used magically as the roots are used as a love charm. They are also used medicinally as a worm remedy. It is the larval host to the Common Blue, Lucerne Blue, Grass Jewel Blue, Grizzled Blue. Karkloof Blue, Restless Blue,Clover Blue Striped Policeman and the African Clouded Yellow butterflies. The leaves are used to make dye. This is a popular bonsai subject. The name is derived from the Katin indicus, Greek indikos referrijng to India. The Latin ferax = bearing. Indigo is blue dye.

Myrsine africana

(Cape Myrtle)

This slow-growing, evergreen small shrub with a rather stiff and upright shape when old, can reach 1 to 2 m high over time. The cream-coloured flowers formed in groups at the base of the leaves in spring and the male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. The male flowers with their red anthers are more conspicuous than the female flowers. It is, however, the female plants that are covered with the attractive purple-coloured fruits after flowering. The fleshy, round fruits each with one seed, are formed in abundance tight against the stem and remain on the plants for many months. It grows well in dry, semi-shade under trees as well as in the full sun between plants and in a rockery. Birds love the fleshy fruits and it is the larval host plant for the Brauer's Opal and the Mooi River Opal butterflies. The leaves are used medicinally as a blood purifier. Tghe name originates from the Greek for the common Myrtle which it resembles.

Rotheca glabrum ( was Clerodendrum glabrum)

(White Cats Whiskers)

Clerodendrum glabrum now called Rotheca glabrum White Cats Whiskers SA Tree No. 667 This small deciduous tree is frost resistant, drought resistant and fast growing in the sun or semi-shade. The pretty pink flowers open in Spring. They attract butterflies, moths, bees and ants. It is the larval host plant for 11 moth species and the Natal bar and the Purple - brown Hairstreak butterflies. It is also useful as the leaves are rubbed onto the hands and face to repel bees when collecting honey. The fruit is used to make a blue dye and is eaten by birds. It is useful for hedging/screening and it has non-aggressive roots. The branches are used for poles for hut building. The wood is hard and is used to start fires. It is resistant to salt spray so is useful for coastal gardens. The medicinal properties are varied. The leaves are used to treat intestinal parasites, coughs, fevers, to aid sleep and prevent bad dreams, for rashes and toothache. When crushed, the leaves have insect-repellent qualities and are made into a lotion to prevent maggots and parasites on the wounds of animals or as a wash for tick infections. It is believed to protect against witchcraft and is considered anti viral. Pounded roots are bound over snake bites, especially Mamba bites. Its also useful on a game farm as it is browsed by game and is ideal for a small garden. The name is derived from the Greek 'kleros' meaning chance or fate and 'dendron' meaning tree. According to legend these trees possessed medicinal properties and one took a chance on them as it varied in several species.

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