Monday, February 20, 2012

Historical Trees - The Magical Marula

The historical Marula tree (Scelerocarya birrea subs. Caffera) is a true African treasure. Archaeological evidence has shown that in ancient times, as far back as 10,000 BC, the Marula was an important nutritional mainstay in South Africa, Botswana and Namibia.

The largest known Marula tree in the world was identified by Professor Lucas ‘Kas’ Holtzhausen. This magnificent male Marula tree is situated near Punda Maria in the Kruger National Park and has a trunk circumference of 4,2 metres.

Professor ‘Kas’ is a pioneer in Marula research and has identified numerous interesting facts about this African botanical treasure. Some of these include his discovery that Marula oil is 48 times more stable than the best quality olive oil and contains a natural preservative making it ideal for cosmetic and perfume manufacture. The fruit is at least 4 times higher in vitamin C than oranges and the skin of the fruit makes an excellent coffee substitute when roasted. The nuts are extremely high in protein and the leaves can be eaten to relieve heartburn while the bark contains an antihistamine.

Tribes such as the Venda and the Tonga people refer to the Marula as ‘The Marriage Tree’ for it is regarded as a symbol of fertility and is used in a cleansing ritual prior to marriage. The Venda people also believe that the tree can determine the gender of an unborn baby. The tree is dioecious, and traditional belief is that taking an infusion made from the bark of a female tree will produce a female child and an infusion from the bark of a male tree will produce a male child. If a child of the opposite gender is born however, that child is deemed to be very special as it was able to defy the spirits.

Currently, the most well known product derived from the Marula tree is Amarula which is recognised in 100 countries worldwide and was awarded the Worldwide Best Liqueur at the 2007 International Wine and Spirit Competition in London.

 Meanwhile, Professor ‘Kas’ continues his valuable research, developing Marula cultivars that are making a significant contribution to the establishment of an internationally recognised Marula industry.

Download our latest Availability List for February!

Although we have many tree species at our nursery that are looking spectacular at any given time, we feature just one tree in particular every month that we know will offer you the best value for money and that will add that special touch to your landscape project.

This month we feature the Ficus nitida, a magnificent, fast growing shade tree as our ‘Spectacular monthly tree’. This superb tree grows to between 8 – 10 m in height with a similar spread, and, with it’s dense, spreading canopy is unsurpassed for any large garden, park or other open area where the establishment of a beautiful shaded area is sought. The roots of the Indian fig are invasive so it is advisable to plant it away from buildings and paved areas. Ficus nitida responds well to pruning and can easily be contained in this way to form a beautiful and impenetrable hedge. We have truly magnificent, well grown specimens available at our nursery at present and urge you to order yours as soon as possible as we expect these popular trees to sell out quickly.
 Botanical Name
 Ficus nitida
Common Name               Indian fig                    
Bag Size100kg
Quantity Available60
Average Tree Height
& Trunk Thickness
3 - 3.5m 
5 - 6cm 
Should you require any further information, such as pricing details or should you wish to place an order, please contact Rudi on 082 829 5543 or Leske on 072 385 0270. Alternatively you are welcome to email us with your enquiry at
Availability List for February 2012

TreeCo provides our readers with a downloadable, updated Availability List every month.
Please note that should you not find the tree that you are looking for on this list, TreeCo will readily source what you require, on your behalf. Rudi and Leske Neethling personally ensure that all trees supplied by TreeCo, conform to our high quality standards.
Please CLICK HERE to download our latest Availability List.
This document is available as a PDF document and will require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view. If you do not have Adobe Acrobat Reader loaded on your computer, please click on the link below which will allow you to download this free program quickly and easily.

Leucadendron argenteum (Silver tree)

Leucadendron argenteum is one of our best loved and most beautiful indigenous trees. The long silky hairs on the leaves give the tree it’s attractive, characteristic shimmering silver sheen. This striking silver sheen is more pronounced in the dry summer months when the hairs lie flat on the surface of the leaves to prevent drying out. In the wet Cape winter the leaves lose their shine as the hairs stand upright to facilitate water loss and air circulation, giving the tree a dull green appearance. The handsome Silver tree is so popular that the Cape Peninsula Parks and Forestry department plant around 1000 of these magnificent trees annually. To survive the fires that are a common feature of fynbos, Leacadendron argenteum has evolved a reseeding strategy. The seeds of adult trees that are killed in a fire are kept safe in the sturdy cones that remain on the tree, and are released en masse after the fire. The Silver tree is dioecious meaning that the male and female trees are separate.
Botanical Name
Leucadendron argenteum
Common Name
Silver tree
RSA National Tree No’
The lovely Leucadendron argenteum is a versatile and showy addition to any landscape. When planted as a single specimen, these trees add interesting colour and texture to even the smallest garden, and for larger gardens, a group of three or five of these magnificent trees create a stunning effect.  The Silver tree requires good drainage, and , plenty of acid compost made from pine needles and oak leaves should be added to the planting hole. As these beautiful trees have a dense but slender upright growth habit they are extremely useful for planting along a boundary fence for privacy, as well as creating an effective yet highly attractive wind break. Leacadendron argenteum is widely used in parks and built up urban areas where the beautiful silver foliage is a perfect foil for other plants. Squirrels and other small mammals relish the seeds in the cones while a number of bird species are attracted by the small beetles that are found on this popular tree.
8 – 10 m
2 - 3 m
Growth Habit
The Silver tree is a forest margin species and occurs naturally on the cool eastern and southern mountain slopes below 500m
The smooth bark is thick, up to 20mm, and whitish to pale grey with horizontal leaf scars
The 15 x 2 cm lanceolate leaves are densely covered with fine, light reflecting, silky silver hairs and distinct veins
The solitary, roundish, cone-like terminal inflorescences are surrounded by involucral bracts. The male is yellowish silver while the female is silvery and often tinged with pink.
The fruit consists of a nutlet with a feathery perianth attached which acts as a parachute carrying the fruit on the wind
The large, dark roundish seeds are 10x8.5x5.5mm in size and are contained within the female cones.
Growing regions
Although it has been suggested that the lovely Leucadendron argenteum is endemic to the eastern slopes of Table Mountain on the Cape Peninsula, there are also notable populations on Paarl mountain, Simonsberg and the Helderberg
Growing conditions
Silver trees prefer a sunny to semi shaded aspect with well drained, acid soil and some protection from frost. Winter watering is required when planted outside the winter rain fall area
Best season
All year
Leacadendron argenteum will tolerate windy and dry conditions as well as some frost. Protection from heavier frost is advised
The Silver tree is propagated from seed which has been planted in a good seedling mixture and kept moist until the seedlings appear or, if quicker results are preferred, from cuttings, grafting or budding
Growth rate
The celebrated Silver tree was first recorded in the early 17th century when it was widespread on the mountains of the Peninsula area. The tree was so popular that it inspired landowners to give their properties names such as Witteboom, Silverhurst and Silverboom. The leaves of the Silver tree were pressed and dried and used by artists to paint local scenes which were sold as souvenirs to tourists. In 1753 the Proteaceae family was originally named after the Silver tree by Linnaeus as Protea argentea and only in 1771 did he redefine the Protea resulting in our understanding of this popular genus today.
      L. argenteum Flowers & Leaves   L. argenteum Seed           L. argenteum Bark