Monday, February 16, 2009

Kiggelaria africana (Wild Peach)

This month, we feature a firm favourite – the Kiggelaria Africana, or Wild Peach. This indigenous tree makes a fantastic shade tree and is a favourite for attracting birds to the garden.


Botanical Name: Kiggelaria africana L.
Common Name: Wild Peach
Genus: Flacourtiaceae
RSA National Tree No’: 494


The K.africana is low branching, so new branches should be trimmed in order to train the tree into developing a good canopy. As one of the best trees to plant in a garden where one intends attracting lots of birds, the K.africana reliably attracts a diverse multitude of birds. The Wild Peach is reasonably frost hardy, prefers a position in full sun and a moderate amount of water in order for it to grow at an optimum rate (approximately 1m per year).


Height: 10-13m in height.
Spread: 13m wide
Deciduous/Evergreen: Evergreen
Growth Habit: Occurs in forested areas such as kloofs, as well as mountainous grasslands and is frequently found in amongst rocks.
Bark: The bark is pale gray and smooth. As the bark ages it begins to darken and flake.
Foliage: The leaves are oblong to elliptic and are 3.5 – 9 x 2-5cm in size.
Flowers: The flowers are pale yellow to greenish white in colour and are about 10mm in diameter. Male and female flowers can be found on separate trees and bloom from August to January.
Fruit: Round capsules which are yellowish green in colour and 1-2cm in diameter, appear in February to July.
Seed: The capsules split open into 5 valves to reveal the seeds (black and smooth) which are completely coated in a red, sticky coating.


Growing regions: K.africana is found from Kenya in the North to the Western Cape of South Africa.
Growing conditions: K.africana enjoys a sunny position and a moderate amount of water. Always mix a good amount of compost into the soil when planting and mulch the surface of the soil.
Best season: Spring - Autumn
Hardiness: The K.africana can tolerate frost and survives in temperatures ranging from 2 – 36 degrees centigrade.
Propagation: The Wild Peach can be propagated from seed or cuttings.
Growth rate: Under optimal conditions, the Wild Peach will grow at a rate of approximately 1m per year.


The wood of the K.africana is a good general purpose timber. It was once used to make the spokes of wagon-wheels. This tree attracts an array of birds and is considered one of the best trees to plant in a garden where wild birds are welcomed. This tree also attracts a particular caterpillar that will strip the tree of its foliage and as part of a natural cycle; this process assists the tree to send out new leaves.

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