Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Apodytes dimidiata (White pear)

Apodytes dimidiate is a charming, bushy evergreen tree with a neat, well rounded crown, dark green leathery leaves and a striking profusion of sweetly scented trusses of white flowers from September to April. The distinctive black fruit with a scarlet, fleshy appendage appear from December to June. This lovely tree grows to a height of between 4 m to 6 m in cultivation but can reach a height of 20 m in a forest. The White pear is one of our most prevalent forest trees occurring in large numbers in coastal forests throughout the country. As the beautiful wood of the White pear was so sought after by the early settlers, huge numbers of these trees were felled and few really fine specimens remain in our forests today, subsequently, Apodytes dimidiate is now a protected species.
Botanical Name
Apodytes dimidiata
Common Name
White pear
RSA National Tree No’
The attractive White pear is an excellent tree for small gardens, patios and paved areas, in fact any area where year round shade is needed. The roots of this pleasing tree are completely non-invasive while the fruit is hard and not at all messy, making it suitable for creating shade alongside swimming pools or areas where other species may not be recommended. To form a lovely single stemmed tree prune off the lower branches while the tree is still young. Apodytes dimidiate makes a lovely background tree in small gardens and can also be pruned to form a thick hedge. The fruit of this versatile tree is attractive to birds such as bulbuls, barbets, pigeons, starlings and Guinea fowl. The White pear is very popular with Bonsai enthusiasts.
4 – 6 m
3 - 4 m
Growth Habit
The White pear occurs in evergreen coastal bush, in open woodland as well as on grassy mountain slopes.
The bark of Apodytes dimidiate is pale grey and smooth
The simple alternate, leathery, ovate-elliptic leaves are glossy dark green above while the undersides are a paler dull green with wavy margins. The petiole is often dark pink in colour.
The profusion of sweetly scented white star-shaped flowers that appear from September to April,  are borne in loose terminal panicles.
The distinctive black , 6mm diameter fruit is oval and somewhat flattened, resembling a kidney shape. The fruit has a scarlet, fleshy attachment that dries to grey or black.
The seed is a black nut.
Growing regions
Apodytes dimidiate is widespread throughout the country occurring from the Cape Peninsula all along the coast to the Garden Route and Kwa-Zulu Natal and up north as far as Ethiopia.
Growing conditions
The lovely White pear is very adaptable and will do well in sun or semi shade. Provide a thick mulch, water regularly and provide a high nitrogen organic fertilizer for best results.
Best season
All year.
Apodytes dimidiate will tolerate dry conditions but does better when given adequate water. Protect from frost in the first year, thereafter it will withstand some light frost.
The best way to propagate White pear is by seed which should be treated with fungicide and sown in seed trays in late winter or early spring. Seed trays should be kept moist. Germination is generally slow and can take as long as 6 months.
Growth rate
Fast, up to 700 mm per year
The beautiful pale pink wood of the White pear was extensively used by the early settlers for wagons, furniture, floors, paneling and rifle stocks. This tree has long been used in traditional medicine. The Zulu people make an infusion from the bark which is used as an enema for internal parasites while the leaves are used for the treatment of ear infections.
            A. dimidiata Flowers & Leaves          A. dimidiata Seed                           A. dimidiata Bark

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