Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Pittosporum viridiflorum (Cheesewood)

The charming Pittosporum viridiflorum is a really useful evergreen tree with an attractive dense, straight or rounded crown and lovely glossy deep green foliage. The Cheesewood varies in size and shape depending on where it is planted and can be maintained as a small tree of about 4 m or left to grow to it’s full height. These delightful trees are irresistible to insectivorous birds when the sweetly fragrant flowers appear, along with a host of insects, while a wide variety of seed eating birds such as the red eyed dove, flock to the tree when the startlingly bright red seeds appear. Selected as one of the Trees of the Year 2002, Pittosporum viridiflorum is a truly excellent all rounder and is becoming increasingly popular as a garden and street tree throughout the country.
Botanical Name
Pittosporum viridiflorum
Common Name
RSA National Tree No’
Pittosporum viridiflorum is a beautiful, low maintenance, well shaped garden tree that can be planted in full sun or semi shade. The non aggressive root system of the charming Cheesewood makes it most suitable for small or townhouse gardens and they do especially well in large pots. These trees always create an eye catching show whether they are planted as a single specimen, as a group or as a lovely dense hedge. When the trusses of flowers appear they will reward you with their delightful honey fragrance wafting on the cool evening breeze and they will create a splash of bright colour when the fruit splits to reveal the masses of brilliant, shiny red seeds that are greatly relished by birds.
4 - 15m
3 - 6 m
Growth Habit
Pittosporum viridiflorum is found growing in bushveld, in tall forest and forest margins as well as in gorges, along river banks and rocky outcrops
Bark on young trees is smooth and grey with conspicuous lenticles becoming rougher as the tree matures
The broadly oblanceolate leaves are glossy dark green above and pale green underneath and are crowded at the ends of the branchlets. They exude a resinous aroma when crushed
The small creamy yellow flowers have a sweet honey fragrance and appear in terminal panicles from September to December
The yellowish brown fruit capsules are about 6 mm in diameter
The bright red seeds are covered with a sticky resinous substance
Growing regions
Pittosporum viridiflorum is widespread throughout the country occurring from the Western Cape up along the east coast and all the way through Gauteng up to Mpumalanga and Limpopo
Growing conditions
Although Cheesewood can withstand frost and drought conditions, these trees do better when given well drained soil and adequate water
Best season
Spring / Summer
Pittosporum viridiflorum can withstand frost and dry conditions
Cheesewood is easily propagated from seed that has been sown in a mixture of compost and sand and kept moist. Propagation by softwood or semi hardwood cuttings is highly successful
Growth rate
Medium to fast
The Cheesewood has a number of medicinal properties and the bark as well as the roots have traditionally been used for a variety of ailments. Infusions of the bark are used to treat stomach complaints and fever, easing pain and having a generally calming effect. The powdered root is believed to have an aphrodisiac effect and is sometimes added to beer. The wood is pale and soft but is sometimes used for kitchen utensils.
pittosporum viridiflorum flowerspittisporum viridiflorum barkpittisporum viridiflorum leaves flowers and fruit
             P. viridiflorum Leaves and Flowers                     P. viridiflorum Bark                               P. viridiflorum Flowers & Fruit

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