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Ziziphus mucronata

(Buffalo Thorn)

This medium sized, deciduous tree is frost resistant, water wise and grows in the sun. 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.

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 pendulina ( Rhus pendulina )

(White Karee)

This willowy evergreen small to medium-sized tree, 4 to 9 m tall, It is quick and easy to grow, tolerates wind and drought, and is evergreen with a graceful habit and a neat crown. It won't get too big and it's not untidy. Tiny green flowers are produced in spring-summer. They are inconspicuous, but attract bees and other insects. The flowers are followed by small rounded berries, green turning reddish and drying to black, usually ripening in the autumn. It h has non-aggressive roots, is frost hardy, drought resistant and it also attract birds and butterflies.

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.

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 the 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 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.

Tarchonanthus camphoratus

(Camphor Bush)

Tarchonanthus camphorates Camphor Bush SA Tree No. 733 is a small evergreen tree which is frost resistant, drought resistant and fast growing in the sun. The cream flowers occur in autumn and they attract butterflies. It is a fodder tree utilized by mammals. It’s also useful for hedging/screening, soil erosion or as a bonsai. Do bear in mind that it has aggressive roots. The wood is used for musical instruments and it has medicinal properties. In days gone by the seeds were used to stuff pillows!

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.

Strelitzia nicolai

(Natal Wild Banana)

This evergreen tree is medium sized and gives Kwazulu Natal it’s tropical feel as it grows profusely in the dune forests. It is a rapid grower and is happy in sun or semi-shade. The stunning purple/blue and cream flowers open in Spring/Summer and attract birds, the insect and nectar eaters. It also attracts butterflies. It can be planted as a specimen plant or used for informal hedging/screening. It has very aggressive roots so don’t plant it near swimming pools or walls. We have one planted in a pot in the nursery to show the damage that the roots cause. It is used to make rope and the seeds are ground into flour and made into patties which are roasted.

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