Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dombeya rotundifolia (Wild pear)

Each month, our readers look forward to our featured tree review. We conduct in-depth research into each species, to obtain as much information as we possibly can in order to offer you a truly valuable, expansive information resource. All the trees we feature are indigenous species which are suitable for use within commercial and residential landscaping projects and are easily grown throughout most of Southern Africa, but specifically the Western Cape.

The charming Dombeya rotundifolia is a common sight in bushveld areas where it heralds the onset of spring when it literally covers itself in a profusion of white or pinkish scented flowers before the leaves appear. This highly ornamental small tree with it’s neat rounded, spreading crown and almost delicate appearance resembles a true pear tree when it flowers, giving rise to the common name Wild pear. The lovely flowers contrast sharply with the dark bole and branches creating a spectacular show. The rounded dark green leaves appear after flowering, in summer, turning a beautiful lemon yellow before falling in autumn. This fast growing small tree is amazingly tough and will withstand drought, frost and windy conditions.
Botanical Name
Dombeya rotundifolia
Common Name
Wild pear
RSA National Tree No’
Few trees can claim to be suitable for almost any landscaping application regardless of the size or situation of the project, but the delightful Wild pear certainly can. Fast growing, extremely hardy and absolutely gorgeous when flowering, this rewarding small tree with non-invasive roots is equally suitable whether planted in a restricted area where space is at a premium or in a large area. For street planting or in public areas Dombeya rotundifolia will do well with a minimum of care while numerous butterflies, insects and birds are attracted to the nectar laden flowers. As a specimen or planted in groups this, appealing indigenous tree will create interest throughout the year.
Growth Habit
The Wild pear grows in woodland, wooded grassland or bushveld as well as on rocky slopes.
The corky bark is dark brown and rough with longitudinal fissures
The dark green, serrated leaves are simple, petioled and nearly circular. They are thick, hard and rough. The underside of the leaves is lighter green and hairy with prominent veins. 
The masses of scented white to pinkish flowers are borne in axillary clusters from July to September, fading to light brown before dropping.
The silky haired fruit capsules form in the centre of the flowers. Once the fruit ripens and the petals of the flowers have turned brown, the petals act as wings as the fruit falls, facilitating distribution.
The seeds of Dombeya rotundifolia are oval and pale brown in colour
Growing regions
The Wild pear is commonly found in Kwa-Zulu Natal, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, the Eastern Free State and Gauteng
Growing conditions
Plant these lovely trees ai full sun in a large hole to which plenty of compost has been added and water adequately for the first 2 years.
Best season
Dombeya rotundifolia is hardy being able to withstand hot dry conditions as well as frost and strong coastal winds.
The Wild pear is easily propagated from seed that has been sown in a seedling mix in seed trays and transplanted into nursery bags once the proper leaves appear.
Growth rate
This tree is a fast grower, about 1m per year.
The wood of the Wild pear is fine grained, heavy and tough and is widely used for fine furniture, household implements and ornaments while the bark is used to make a strong fibre. Traditionally decoctions and infusions made from various parts of the tree have been used medicinally to cure such ailments as psychosis, vertigo, ulcers, haemorroids, nausea and even a love potion for those that need it.

              D. rotundifolia Bark                 D. rotundifolia Leaves              D. rotundifolia Flowers

1 comment:

  1. Can this tree be planted in a half wine barrel?