Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Important Plant Families in South Africa - Anacardiaceae

Anacardiaceae is the fourth largest tree family in southern Africa comprising approximately 80 indigenous tree species and is widespread throughout the warmer regions of the world.

Although this large family can be quite challenging to identify, amongst the ten genera most commonly found in South Africa are the many varieties, but easily recognisable Searsia (formerly Rhus), Harpephyllum caffrum (Wild plum) and the Sclerocarya birrea (Marula).

Most of the members of this large and somewhat diverse family have trifoliate or imparipinnate leaves that are alternate, opposite or whorled. Some genera have leaves that give off a watery latex and a strong, resinous aroma while the bark of many have tanning properties.

The flowers are usually dioecious and borne in panicles, while the fruit usually takes the form of a drupe which in some cases appear to be hard and dry.

Amongst the most economically important members of this family are the Sclerocarya birrea (Marula) the fruit of which is used to manufacture a popular local alcoholic drink which is gaining popularity worldwide, the Mangifera indica (Mango), the Pistacia vera (Pistachio nut) and the Anacardium occidentale (Cashew nut).

Some local members of this large family include Heeria argentea (Rockwood), Laurophyllus capensis (Iron Martin), Ozoroa engleri (White resin tree), Searsia pendulina (White karee), Harpephyllum caffrum (Wild plum).

Classification Anacardiaceae or Mango family

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Spectacular Monthly Tree - June 2013

Nuxia floribunda is a highly decorative evergreen tree bearing a profusion of magnificent creamy white, fragrant flower clusters, giving the tree a delicate, lacy beauty in autumn and winter. These beautiful trees occur naturally in the southern and eastern coastal forests and grow to a height of between 4 and 8 metres. The attractive dense, rounded crown can reach a spread of 4 metres. The Forest elder grows quickly but should be given some protection from frost. These splendid trees make superb specimen trees in any landscape as well as creating lovely showy avenues when planted along driveways and streets.

Remember that June is still an excellent time to plant trees! So come and collect our stunning specimens at only R1300ea while stocks last.

Botanical Name
Nuxia floribunda    
Common Name
Forest elder
Size Available
R 1300
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 June 2013

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.

Olinia ventosa (Hard pear)

Olinia ventosa is a magnificent, evergreen, large to medium sized shade tree with a shapely, spreading crown. When the masses of nectar filled, fragrant flowers appear in spring, the tree looks spectacular while attracting bees and insects as well as a host of birds of all descriptions. Although the stunning bright red fruits may not appear every year they create a lovely, eye catching show when they do, attracting fruit eating birds such as mouse birds and louries. The beautiful glossy green leaves as well as the twigs and bark of the Hard pear all give off a strong, distinctive almond aroma when crushed. These are generally classed as large trees but they will be somewhat smaller when growing on exposed or rocky hillsides.
Botanical Name
Olinia ventosa
Common Name
Hard pear
RSA National Tree No’
Olinia ventosa is not only one of our loveliest indigenous trees but it is also extremely hardy, being able to withstand frost, drought and strong winds as well as poor or stony soil. The magnificent hard pear is an excellent choice for a striking shade tree in the large to medium sized garden where the masses of fragrant flowers and bright red fruits create a wonderful focal point in the landscape. In coastal areas where strong winds can be a problem, Olinia ventosa creates a strong, dense wind break as well as providing a cool, shady haven on hot summer days. Although the Hard pear does not have an invasive root system, these are large trees, so it is advisable to plant them a little distance away from paving and buildings to avoid any damage to these areas as the trees mature.
Height8 – 20m
4 – 8m
Growth Habit
Olinia ventosa occurs naturally in low altitude forests, along forest margins and occasionally in coastal scrub as well as on rocky hillsides.
The bark on young Hard pear trees is smooth and grey becoming rough and rust coloured as the tree matures.
The hairless, leaves are borne in opposite pairs and are ovate to elliptic, 25-80 x 10-50mm. The upper surface is deep, glossy green with paler, dull green below.
From August to October the charming, sweetly scented, pale pink to white flowers are borne in dense, 60mm long axillary clusters.
The bright red, 10mm diameter, thinly fleshy, globose fruits have a distinctive circular scar at the tip.
There are several small dark seeds in the woody centre of the fruit.  
Growing regions
Olinia ventosa is found in the low lying and coastal forests from the Cape Peninsula, along the southern and eastern Cape coast and up as far as the Transkei in southern Kwa Zulu Natal.
Growing conditions
The beautiful Hard pear will grow in any soil type, even stony ground, and will do well in sunny as well as shady areas.
Best season
These are amongst the hardiest of indigenous trees being able to withstand strong winds and frost, as well as dry conditions.
Due to the hard coating of the seeds they can be difficult to germinate, sometimes taking as long as nine months. It is advisable to treat the seeds with a fungicide as the constant moisture that needs to be provided during this period can cause the seeds to rot. Once germination has taken place however the seedlings grow quickly.
Growth rate
Olinia ventosa is known as one of our fastest growing indigenous trees and can be expected to grow up to 1m or more annually.
The Hard pear produces strong, hard and heavy wood that has long been used to make durable fence posts, telephone and electricity poles as well as being used to build wagons. The timber is also extensively used for the manufacture of fine furniture and musical instruments as the interesting yellow and brown colour closely resembles walnut when finished and polished.
Olina ventosa flowersOlina ventosa fruitOlina ventosa bark
                O. ventosa Flowers              O. ventosa Fruit                 O. ventosa Bark