Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Halleria lucida (Tree fuchsia)

Halleria lucida is a delightful multi stemmed, evergreen, small to medium sized tree, with a spreading crown and elegantly arching branches. The bright glossy green foliage and showy, bright red, trumpet shaped flowers make this one of our most sought after indigenous garden subjects. The tough, easy to grow Tree fuchsia adapts well to a wide variety of growing conditions while the nectar laden flowers attract a host of different sunbird species and the sweet, fleshy, black fruit are relished by a wide variety of fruit eating birds. So popular is Halleria lucida, that it has been in cultivation in South Africa since as far back as the 18th century while a specimen that was growing in a greenhouse in England was recorded as far back as the early 19th century..
Botanical Name
Halleria lucida
Common Name
Tree fuchsia
RSA National Tree No’
If you are looking for a tree that will provide a vivid splash of colour in the garden, or for cool evergreen shade, the delightful Tree fuchsia is a must. This adaptable tree will create a stunning focal point in a small or a larger garden or, for a truly splendid display, plant a group of 3 to 5 of these beautiful trees. The versatile, fast growing Halleria lucida, will look equally at home in a tropical setting, in a fynbos garden or even in a cottage style garden. The Tree fuchsia works extremely well as an informal hedge or anywhere that an attractive screening plant is sought while for patios and paved areas these easy to maintain trees look absolutely lovely in large pots. 
Height 2 - 12 m
2 - 4 m
Growth Habit
Halleria lucida occurs naturally in coastal scrub, evergreen forest and forest margins, in ravines near rivers and streams as well as on exposed rocky mountain slopes
The pale grey to brown bark of the Tree fuchsia is longitudinally fissured and flakes in long, loose strips
The shiny, ovate, bright green leaves are thinly leathery with a droopy habit, broadly tapering at the base and with a finely toothed or scalloped margin
The nectar rich, bright red trumpet shaped flowers appear from May to January in small clusters in the buds of young shoots and in large, showy clusters on the main stem and older branches of this delightful tree
Appearing on the main stem and thick branches from August, the fleshy, berry like fruit is crowned by the wispy remains of the style and is green when young, ripening to a deep purplish-black
The seed consists of tiny black flakes which are found in the jelly-like flesh of the fruit
Growing regions
Halleria lucida is found growing all the way from the Cape Peninsula in the south, right around the south and east coast of South Africa, as well as through the eastern Free State, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mpumalanga
Growing conditions
The showy Tree fuchsia thrives in well drained soil to which plenty of compost has been added and with regular watering throughout the year
Best season
Winter - Summer
The lovely Halleria lucida will withstand both drought and frost
Propagation by seed is easy and highly successful but if a faster method is preferred cuttings take readily as well
Growth rate
Halleria lucida has long been used medicinally by the Zulu nation for skin ailments and ear complaints. Traditionally, this tree has been attributed with magical powers and is used to ward off evil as well as offering protection from wizardry and lightning. The pale yellow timber which is likened to olive wood is strong and hard and was used for carpentry, tools, spear shafts and wagon poles.

                  H. lucida Flowers & Bark                           H. lucida Fruit                                     H. lucida Leaves

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