Thursday, October 13, 2011

Virgilia oroboides (Keurboom)

This most delightful, fast growing evergreen tree with a somewhat rounded crown and low branching habit is perfect as a pioneer species for woodland development where slower growing species will benefit from the shade and wind protection that the Keurboom provides. This is also a useful mulch producing tree adding extensively to poor or marginal soils in only a few seasons. The fragrant, pretty pink pea flowers rich in nectar, make them irresistible to sunbirds, bees and a host of other insects.
Botanical Name
Virgilia oroboides
Common Name
RSA National Tree No’
The popular and extremely decorative Virgilia oroboides will look spectacular wherever it is planted. Although it is relatively short lived, from 12 – 20 years, it grows very rapidly and can easily be replaced when necessary. This absolutely lovely tree is equally suitable for both small and large landscapes and looks absolutely beautiful as a street tree or as a decorative feature in office parks and other built up areas where a fast growing shade tree is required. As it is low branching, the Keurboom is ideal for establishing privacy as well as being a useful wind break.
6 m
4 m
Growth Habit
The Keurboom is commonly found growing below 1200m along forest margins, often beside rivers or streams, as well as in thickets and on hillsides.
The bark is silver-grey and smooth on young trees becoming dull grey and rough on older trees.
The leaves of Virgilia oroboides are greyish-green and have a dense covering of velvety hairs. They are pinnately compound with from 6 to 12 pairs of leaflets and a single terminal leaflet.   
The pale pink, sweetly scented, pea shaped flowers appear in spring and are carried in dense terminal spikes that are up to 100mm long.
The fruit consists of 50mm-80mm long flat brown pods that turn black as they mature. These split open and release the seeds. There are between 2 and 6 seeds per pod.
The seeds of the Keurboom resemble small dark brown beans.
Growing regions
Virgilia oroboides is generally found along the narrow South-Eastern coastal strip between the Cape peninsula and George.
Growing conditions
The lovely Keurboom will grow equally well in full sun or semi-shade and will adapt to most well drained soils. Water regularly when young but once established these trees are able to survive fairly long droughts.
Best season
Virgilia oroboides will tolerate some frost provided that it is not subjected to frost for extended periods.
These trees are easily propagated from seed that has been soaked and planted in a general seedling mixture and kept moist
Growth rate
The Keurboom grows extremely fast and given optimum growing conditions, newly planted young trees can grow up to 2 metres in a single year.
The wood of the lovely Keurboom has long been popular for decorative wood turned items as well as for yokes, wagon bed planks, spars and for durable furniture. Traditionally, the clear gum that is exuded by the bark was used as starch.
               V. oroboides Seed Pod and Leaf                          V. oroboides Seed                                           V. oroboides Flowers

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