Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Pappea capensis (Jacket plum)

The hardy, evergreen Pappea capensis, a relative of the litchi, must be one of the most popular trees for attracting birds and wildlife to the garden. The handsome dense, spreading crown is much favoured by birds for nesting while the sweetly scented flowers attract a multitude of insects and the decorative scarlet berries are irresistible to fruit eating birds. Although the lovely Jacket plum is relatively slow growing, it will adapt to almost any soil and climatic conditions including extended periods of drought, making it a versatile and worthwhile addition to any landscape.
Botanical Name
Pappea capensis
Common Name
Jacket plum
RSA National Tree No’
The lovely pinkish new leaves that contrast beautifully with the green of older leaves, and the attractive grey bark of the Jacket plum, make it a perfect choice as a focal point in the landscape. This decorative tree does not have an aggressive root system making it suitable for creating a charming shady area in a small garden or even in a townhouse garden. Plant Pappea capensis en masse as an excellent windbreak or, as a natural bush area that is wild life friendly in large gardens or on golf courses. As the Jacket plum thrives on very little attention it is a superb choice as a street tree or for providing shade in any public area.
3 – 8 m
2 – 5 m
Growth Habit
Jacket plum occurs in wooded grassland, bushveld, valley bushveld, karroid vegetation and can often be found growing on termite mounds
On young branches the pale grey bark is smooth,  becoming rougher with pale grey and dark grey patches on older bark
The oblong leaves that are crowded at the ends of the branches are simple with parallel veins. Margins on young leaves are closely spine-toothed becoming entire on mature growth. Leaves are dull green above and paler with raised yellowish venation below.
The small, yellowish-green, sweetly scented flowers appear in axillary and terminal drooping spikes from September to May
The fruit consists of a furry green capsule which splits to reveal the brilliant, orange-red fleshy arillode that envelopes the seed.
The hard,  5mm diameter seed is dark brown to black
Growing regions
Pappea capensis is widespread throughout South Africa and can be found from the dry Norhern Cape and the Karoo right through to the Eastern Cape and Kwa-Zulu Natal
Growing conditions
Jacket plum will grow almost anywhere in any soil type and enjoys a warm, sunny position
Best season
Spring / Summer
Pappea capensis is hardy being drought, frost  and wind tolerant
The seeds should be planted about 5 mm deep in a good seedling mix, placed in a shaded position and kept moist. Germination can take up to 10 weeks. Plant out when seedlings are between 20-50 mm tall taking care not to damage the tap root
Growth rate
Moderate to slow depending on the growing conditions
The tasty fruit can be made into a delicious jelly, vinegar or alcoholic drink while the seeds yield a fairly heavy, golden yellow, edible oil. The mildly purgative oil can be used for soap making and was used by farmers to oil their guns. A preparation made from the leaves is used to relieve sore eyes. The heavy, hard, light reddish wood is used for durable fence poles, cattle yokes, kitchen utensils and furniture

Dovyalis caffra flowersDovyalis caffra fruitDovyalis caffra leaves and thorns
                  P. capensis Bark                                          P. capensis Fruit & Leaves                        P. capensis Flowers & Leaves

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