Sunday, January 29, 2012

Psoralia pinnata (Fountain tree)

Psoralia pinnata is a gorgeous small, slender, upright tree that is fast gaining popularity worldwide for it’s spectacular traffic stopping display of flowers from late spring to early summer, and, as housing complexes with tiny gardens become ever more popular, it’s suitability for beautifying these small spaces.
This most charming of small trees has a spreading crown with bristly leaves that can easily be pruned into any desired shape and when the Fountain tree covers itself with fragrant clusters of lavender blue and white pea shaped flowers the show is nothing short of breathtaking.
Botanical Name
Psoralia pinnata
Common Name
Fountain tree
RSA National Tree No’
The fine foliage and enchanting flowers of the Fountain tree look stunning in any garden setting. In the smaller garden it makes a superb specimen tree whereas in larger gardens Psoralia pinnata can be effectively incorporated in a large border where it will look superb, especially when combined with camellias and azaleas that flower at the same time. Planted in a group of 3 to 5, these delightful small trees will provide an attractive display throughout the year. When flowering, insects are attracted to the grape-like fragrance of the flowers which in turn attracts a variety of birds such as White eyes and Robins.
4 m
3 - 4 m
Growth Habit
The Fountain tree occurs along streams and moist areas along forest margins
The bark is greyish and fairly smooth
The compound leaves consist of 4 – 5 sharply pointed narrow leaflets about 1 – 4 mm wide that are dotted with tiny black glands. The leaves are aromatic when crushed
The fragrant lavender and white pea shaped flowers are borne in clusters in the leaf axils from October to December
The 3 – 5 mm long pods are black and appear after the tree has flowered
Each pod contains a single black seed
Growing regions
Psoralia pinnata is widespread occurring from Clanwilliam to the Cape Peninsula, eastward to George, Knysna and the Eastern Cape and northwards to Kwa Zulu Natal, Swaziland and Mpumalanga
Growing conditions
The lovely Fountain tree should be planted in well drained soil that is  kept well watered and will do equally well in sun or shade but will flower more abundantly in the sun.
Best season
Psoralia pinnata will tolerate light frost and can withstand strong salt laden coastal wind as well as a moderate amount of drought. However, this tree does not do well in very dry areas such as the Karroo
The Fountain tree is easily propagated from seed that has been soaked overnight and planted in a moist seedling mix to which some soil from underneath the original tree has been added
Growth rate
Fast, up to 1m per year
The enchanting Psoralia pinnata is one of the earliest South African plants to be cultivated both locally and abroad. As early as 1690 there where already a number of these lovely trees, that were propagated from seed collected in the Cape, growing in England
               P. pinnata Flowers              P. pinnata Leaves                  P. pinnata Bark

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