Wednesday, June 12, 2013

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

No comments:

Post a Comment