Thursday, March 14, 2013

Important Plant Families in South Africa - Mimosaceae

In order to facilitate the identification of our wealth of lovely South African trees, it is helpful to be familiar with the most prominent plant families in an area, as well as the characteristics that distinguish each plant family. Every month we will feature one of the most important and well represented plant families, focusing on easily recognisable features to assist identification.

Mimosaceae (Thorn tree family)

This very well represented plant family comprises about 100 tree species in southern Africa. Mimosaceae is one of three families belonging to the single Leguminosae family, the other two being Caesalpiniaceae and Fabaceae. These can easily be recognised by the fruit which consists of a seed bearing pod.

The most familiar representatives of this family are the Acacias and Albizias that are widespread throughout the bushveld regions of the country.

The family is distinguished by bipinnate leaves, sometimes feathery, and many have leaflets that fold up at night. Stipular scars are always present which, in the case of Acacias, are modified into thorns or spines. A distinctive feature is the thickening at each petiole and petiolule base while the fluffy, yellow or white flowers appear in the form of heads or spikes.

This family play an important part in nitrogen enrichment of soils as most members contain nitrogen fixing bacteria in the root nodules.

Various Acacias are of significant economic importance such as Acacia senegal, which produces gum arabic, an important component in the manufacture of various pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, foods, paints and adhesives. Products from Acacias are used in the tanning industry while the wood is also used for various commercial applications.

Members of the Mimosaceae family include; Albizia adianthifolia (Flat crown), Albizia tanganyicensis (Paperbark albizia), Acacia erioloba (Camel thorn), Acacia tortilis (Umbrella thorn), Acacia albida (Ana tree). 
Classification Euphorbia family

Top Facebook Query - March 2013

Gail Klein from California wrote:

My 12' tall Cunonia capensis has extreme chlorosis (not equal everywhere) and lots of suckering at the base. Just gave it iron sulfate. It gets lots of water and part sun. I'm hoping you can suggest a solution; they are very rare here in California so no local help is available. Thank you.

TreeCo responded:

The fact that the tree is sending out suckers, means that the tree is planted too deeply - and there is not enough air for the roots. This will also exacerbate chlorosis. These trees grow naturally over rocks in the kloofs and it is extremely vital that their root collar is above ground to prevent waterlogging. Although their roots cling over rocks in running water, they don't respond well to soil compaction and waterlogging. We would suggest loosening and removing some of the soil round the base of the tree / top of the roots and look at adding some vermicast (worm castings) around the base to promote microbial interactions.

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Spectacular Monthly Tree - March 2013

The dense, dark green, drooping canopy of the magnificent Ficus natalensis makes it one of our finest indigenous shade trees. The size and growth habit of this handsome tree varies widely, depending on the climate and general growing conditions. In the Cape region for example, the Natal Fig has a neat single trunk and tends to be smaller than it’s counterparts growing in subtropical regions, where the canopy becomes far wider with a profusion of aerial roots and a buttressed trunk. The fruit or figs that are produced prolifically by these adaptable trees, while not suitable for human consumption, attract a great diversity of wildlife to the garden from birds to bats and a variety of insects. The versatile Ficus natalensis is wind and drought resistant and tolerates temperatures from -5C – 30+C.

Our Natal Figs are looking absolutely spectacular, so don't hesitate to place your order with us today.

Botanical Name
Ficus natalensis     
Common Name
Natal Fig
Size Available
Quantity in Stock
Average Tree Height
Average Trunk Thickness
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 March 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.

Cordia caffra (Septee tree)

Cordia caffra is such a gorgeous tree that it should be planted far more extensively in cities and towns throughout the country. The beautiful, dense crown, decorative bark, masses of sweetly fragranced flowers and eye catching orange fruit ensure that the Septee tree looks lovely throughout the warmer months while in winter, the interesting patterns created by the bare branches, add a dramatic accent to the landscape. The decorative fruit, although edible, is not very tasty, birds however, find it quite irresistible while bees and insects are attracted to the fragrant flowers.
Botanical Name
Cordia caffra
Common Name
Septee tree
RSA National Tree No’
The Septee tree is so decorative and has so many attributes that make it ideal for the urban landscape that it can be used in numerous situations. This small to medium sized tree is perfect for creating a truly breathtaking focal point in any landscape, large or small, or for planting as a beautiful avenue along driveways, roads or waterways. Planted in groups in larger gardens or parks, these delightful trees will provide permanent interest. The rewarding Septee tree will grow quickly, creating an established look in a fairly short time. Cordia caffra responds well to pruning making this an ideal choice for creating privacy along property boundaries as well as areas where space is restricted.
6 – 7m
4 - 5 m
Growth Habit
The lovely Cordia caffra occurs naturally in forest, coastal forest and riverine bush
The attractive, smooth bark is creamy brown with pinkish mottling. Areas where the bark flakes off are pale grey to white underneath
The thin, drooping, alternate leaves are glossy dark green above and paler green below. They are ovate to narrowly ovate with a slightly toothed margin
From September to November, the pretty, sweetly fragranced, creamy white, bell shaped flowers appear in terminal clusters
The abundant, striking fruit consists of a deep orange drupe with a large, cup like calyx
Seed is contained in a small capsule and has a pleated cotyledon
Growing regions
The Septee tree occurs along the coastal forests of the Transkei and Kwa Zulu Natal up to southern Mozambique and north eastern Limpopo
Growing conditions
Cordia caffra prefers a semi shaded position but will also do well in full sun. Plant in a large hole to which plenty of compost and organic fertiliser have been added. Protect the stem from frost for the first few winters
Best season
Cordia caffra will tolerate windy conditions as well as light frost
Sow seeds in a good seedling mixture and keep moist. The seed germinates readily.
Growth rate
Fairly fast, trees will reach flowering stage in approximately 7 years
The attractive heart wood of Cordia caffra is pinkish in colour, easy to work with and polishes beautifully, making it suitable for the manufacture of fine furniture. Young wood is used for building huts while dried sticks are used for starting fires the traditional way through sparks caused by friction. Medicinally, parts of the tree are used for the treatment of fever, wounds and painful or inflamed eyes.

Rapanea flowersRapanea fruitRapanea Leaves
                C. caffra Foliage and Flowers                       C. caffra Fruit                                   C. caffra Bark