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Aloe tenuior

(No common name)

This aloe grows into a large bush with stems up to 2 meters. There are red and yellow flowering forms and seem to flower on and off throughout the year, peaking in winter. Its natural distribution is from the Eastern Cape, through Kwazulu Natal and Swaziland into Mpumalanga. It’s a useful plant to fill a gap in a large garden. It is medicinal as root decoctions are used to treat tapeworm.

Ziziphus mucronata

(Buffalo Thorn)

This medium sized, deciduous tree is frost resistant, drought resistant and grows in the sun. It has non aggressive roots. This is a great bird garden tree as it attracts the insect, fruit and nectar eaters as well as being used for nesting sites. It also attracts butterflies. It could be used as an informal hedge/screen or as a thorny security barrier. It is an important fodder tree for game farms. It is protected in Free State. The raw fruit is edible, or it can be cooked into a porridge or roasted and used as a coffee substitute. The nutritious leaves are cooked as spinach and the wood is useful fuel. It is an important medicinal tree and it has many magical uses. The zig zag shaped young branches epitomize one’s path through life which is both good and bad. The leaves are 3 veined to remind us that our relationships with God, the environment and our fellow man need to be in balance. The forward pointing thorns remind us to reach for our goals and the recurved ones remind us to look back and reflect on where we have come from.

Vepris lanceolata

(White Ironwood)

This medium sized, evergreen tree grows to 6m high in open woodland but in deep forests it becomes a tall graceful tree with a gently rounded crown of shiny light green foliage. The whitish grey bark is smooth and the tiny yellowish flowers appear in sprays from December to March. The leaves and fruit are dotted with oil glands that release a citrus smell when crushed. The small, black fruits are favoured by birds. It tolerates only light frost and is fairly drought resistant once established. It makes a good screen. It grows very well in sandy soil. It is ideal for small gardens and bird gardens. It attracts birds and butterflies.

Tecoma capensis

(Cape Honeysuckle)

Fast growing, evergreen shrub that copes well with drought conditions. It can grow to 2m and responds well to pruning. There are many colours available now from yellow, orange, salmon, pink and red and they flower from spring through summer. It also attracts the sunbirds, insect eaters and butterflies. I’ve seen it pruned into a formal hedge. You may need to cut it back slightly in spring if the frost has caught the tips during the winter. It also has medicinal uses and the bark infusions are used for fever, pain and sleeplessness. The nursing mothers wear a necklace of pieces of stem. Eve Palmer said in A Gardener's Year "...it doesn't care a button for heat, cold or drought, and is beautiful and fast".

Rhamnus prinoides

(Dogwood)

Grows in most parts of the country and grows to 4-6meters. It makes a rounded, evergreen screen which is attractive with its glossy green leaves. The leaves are used in beer and wine making. The inconspicuous flowers are greenish, blooming between November and January, in small clusters. They are loved by the bees, butterflies and other insects. The fruits are about the size of a pea (about 5 mm in diameter), roundish and clearly divided into three compartments. They appear between December and June. They are fleshy and green, turning red and then purple as they ripen. The fruit is loved by many bird species, so it's a great addition to a bird garden. The wood is white to yellow, often streaked with brown, pink, red or green and is hard and heavy. It is too small to be generally useful, although sticks may be made of it. It is tough and frost resistant and grows well in most soils. It is evergreen and is good for small gardens and hedges, especially in cold areas. It is widely used by African people as a protective charm to ward off lightning and evil influences from homes and crops and to bring luck in hunting. It is also used by Africans to cleanse the blood, to treat pneumonia, rheumatism, sprains, and stomach ache, and as a gargle. It is also used in the treatment of skin complaints and respiratory infections.

Searsia lancea (Rhus lancea)

(Karee)

This tree has recently changed its name from Rhus lancea. It is wide spread and is only missing from Kwazulu Natal. It grows to 5-10meters and makes a lovely evergreen shade tree. it is in the top 5 frost and drought hardy trees. Our grandsons loved climbing these trees when they were little as they branch low down if left to their own devices. It attracts birds and butterflies and the fruit is enjoyed by our staff and it is traditionally also used to make mead. The leaves produce a brown dye and are also eaten by game so it’s a good fodder tree on a game farm. This tree indicates surface or underground water.

Searsia lucida ( Rhus lucida )

(Glossy Currant)

This small tree only grows to 2 m in the scrub forests from the west coast all the way round through to Mozambique. It is attractive shiny leaves and produces creamy white flowers which are followed by green fruits that mature to brown. These are relished by birds.

Searsia pyroides (Rhus pyroides)

(Fire Thorn)

This is a deciduous shrub or small to medium-sized, multistemmed tree, frequently with spines. The bark is rough and grey. The leaves are compound, composed of three leaflets (tri-foliate). The leaves are borne on slender stalks, which are furrowed above. The leaflets are oval, narrowing at both ends, sometimes with a short tip. They are smooth or velvety above, the lower surface is usually slightly hairy. The fruits ripen in summer to late autumn and in such quantities that the branches bend with the weight. The fruits are round and small, white and red when ripe. The wood is used to make hoe handles. The branches are used to build kraals. The fruit is edible, with a pleasant, sweet-acidic taste. It is a hardy, frost-resistant plant and is well suited to Highveld gardens.

Searsia crenata (Rhus crenata)

(Dune Crow-Berry)

This evergreen shrub or small tree can reach a height of 3–5 m. It is spineless and grows well on sandy dune soils and is therefore useful for coastal gardens. It can be pruned to make an effective and attractive hedge or screen, an ideal windbreak and can be successfully used as a bonsai. The flowers are insignificant, white to almost cream and appear in small clusters at the tip of branches during autumn. The fruits are small round red-brown to pale black berries and are popular with birds. It also attracts various butterflies.

Searsia leptodictya ( Rhus leptodictya )

(Mountain Karee)

Searsia leptodictya ( Rhus leptodictyra) Mountain Karee SA Tree No. 387 is a small evergreen tree which is frost resistant and drought resistant. It grows in the full sun and has yellow flowers in summer. It attracts birds, butterflies and mammals and is useful for hedging/screening. As it has non-aggressive roots it is used as a street tree or a shade tree in a small garden.

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