Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Let's Celebrate Trees with Arbor Month!

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago - the second best time is today. Confucius

Every September, individuals, schools, organisations and businesses participate in greening events to help improve our urban environment. With events held right around the country, there is sure to be something close-by that you can participate in. If you cant find anything suitable - why not simply go ahead and plant a tree yourself?

For landscapers - a great initiative would be to include this years highlighted tree within your projects for September!

Firstly let's look at the breakdown of what is celebrated when:

Arbor Day - 1 September
Arbor Week - 1 - 7 September
Arbor Month - 1 - 30 September
Well the Western Cape province was certainly a little too wet to celebrate much in the way of planting on the 01st September - but thankfully we have an entire month ahead of us!

Tree's of the Year

Both a common and uncommon indigenous tree species is celebrated every year. For 2013 your trees include:

Common Tree - Virgilia oroboides (Keurboom)

Suitable for both domestic gardens and landscapes, the Keurboom is a fast grower which produces an abundance of magnificent, sweetly scented, pea-shaped, purple flowers in spring and early summer.

Uncommon Tree 1 - Grewia occidentalis (Kruisbessie)

More of a shrub than an actual tree, the Kruisbessie reaches about 3m in height and produces very pretty purple, star shaped flowers in summer. This small tree/shrub is incredibly drought resistant as well as frost hardy and is an absolute must have for gardeners who wish to attract birds and butterflies.

Uncommon Tree 2 - Barringtonia racemosa (Powder-puff tree)

Suited to very humid and moist conditions, the powder-puff tree is in fact a mangrove tree.

Arbor Day Fast Facts

Here are some facts about Arbor Day you may or may not have known!
  • Arbor Day originated in 1872 in the United States territory of Nebraska. Mr. J. Sterling Morton
  • On April 10 1872, the first official Arbour Day, the people of Nebraska planted one million trees.
  • Arbor Day was first celebrated in South Africa in 1983.
  • In 1999 the South African Government extended Arbor Day to Arbor Week.
Join us in supporting the environment this Arbor Month by planting at least just one of the Tree's of the Year!

Important Plant Families in South Africa - Annonaceae

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.

Annonaceae (Custard Apple family)

This large and fascinating family of mainly tropical and subtropical trees and shrubs consists of over 100 genera and is represented by approximately 20 native species in southern Africa.

All the members of this family are generally easy to recognise as they have simple, alternate leaves that are aromatic, occasionally somewhat blue tinged and are without stipules.

The inconspicuous, bisexual flowers are greenish with three sepals and six petals that are often arranged in two rows. There are frequently many stamens with few to many carpels. The carpels which have a very insignificant style are most prominent during fruiting. These often develop into clusters of fleshy fruits that radiate from the tip of the original flower stalk.

Many species produce edible fruit which are not marketed commercially but rather consumed locally, as well as being used medicinally or used for their believed magical properties. The fruits are generally known as ‘custard apples’ due to the custard like flavour of many or them.

The flowers of Artabotrys odoratissimus are an important and valuable commercial product as the oil produced by distillation of the blooms, yields one of the best known oils used in the French perfume industry, namely, ylang-ylang.

Some examples of this species include; Annona senegalensis (Wild custard apple), Artabotrys monteiroae (Red hook berry), Hexalobus monopetalus (Shakama plum), Monodora junodii (Green apple), Uvaria caffra (Small cluster pear) and Xylopia parviflora (Bush bitterwood).
 Classification Annonaceae

Spectacular Monthly Tree - September 2013

Searsia chirindensis is an attractive, semi deciduous tree that grows to a height of between 6 – 10 meters.
In autumn the large leaves, consisting of three leaflets, turn a beautiful deep russet, making it a superb choice for providing colour in the garden at that time of the year.
The small yellowish flowers are borne at the ends of the branches and are followed by heavy clusters of shiny, dark, reddish-brown berries which are a favorite with many species of birds. The Red currant is an excellent, fast growing garden tree and is even suitable for smaller gardens as it does not have an invasive root system.
Botanical Name
Searsia chirindensis
Common Name
Red Currant
Size Available
50 lt
Quantity in Stock
Average Tree Height
2.2 m
Average Trunk Thickness
4 cm
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 September 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.

Kirkia wilmsii (Mountain seringa)

The handsome and graceful Kirkia wilmsii should be far more widely planted in South Africa. This magnificent, medium to large, deciduous tree with its irregular, spreading, rounded crown is easy to grow and will tolerate mild frost as well as short periods of drought. The most spectacular and well known feature of this beautiful tree is the unbelievable beauty of its vibrant autumn colours from April to May, that conform to one colour per tree. The Mountain seringa is a year-round pleaser however, and is strongly recommended for all areas where heavy frosts do not occur.
Botanical Name
Kirkia wilmsii
Common Name
Mountain seringa
RSA National Tree No’
For an unsurpassed autumn display, the breathtaking sight of the Mountain seringa, ablaze in a mantle of brilliant scarlet, vivid orange or rich gold makes this one of the most desirable of all indigenous trees. This wonderful garden subject is a most pleasing addition to any medium or large garden and being fairly low maintenance, is also perfect for street planting and public areas. The Kirkia wilmsii lends interest to the landscape throughout the year as once the spectacular autumn show comes to an end, the bare branches create an interesting tracery against the winter sky. Then in spring, the flowers attract a host of colourful butterflies, while in summer, it provides welcome shade. Whether planted as a striking specimen or in groups, this is a truly excellent choice for any landscape.
Height6 - 8 m
3 - 4 m
Growth Habit
The Mountain seringa is found growing naturally in dry bushveld, preferring rocky mountain slopes and granitic and dolomitic soils.
The trunk often branches close to the base and the smooth grey bark has irregular patches.
The leaves of these lovely trees consist of 10 – 22 pairs of small leaflets per leaf and are crowded near the ends of the branches becoming bright red in autumn.
The greenish white to greenish cream flowers are borne on branched axillary sprays from spring through summer
 The fruit, which appears in summer, consists of a pale brown capsule that splits open into 4 valves which remain joined at the apex.
The small dark seeds are distributed by the wind.
Growing regions
Kirkia wilmsii is endemic to the warmer northern regions of South Africa and are found growing wild in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
Growing conditions
The Mountain seringa will perform equally well in full sun or semi-shade. Although they grow naturally in rocky or sandy soils, they can be grown successfully in any well drained soil. If the soil is acidic, a little lime should be added during the growing season.
Best season
Spring - Summer
Kirkia wilmsii will tolerate light frost and can withstand short periods of drought as water is stored in the roots.
These trees are easy to propagate from seed but for quicker results truncheons that have been treated with a rooting compound are recommended.
Growth rate
The Mountain seringa has long been valued by local people who harvest the bark, young stems and roots to produce a strong fibre which they use for weaving. The roots of this useful tree store water, providing an important source of water in times of drought, while the leaves are widely used as goat fodder.
Mountain seringa flowersMountain seringa foliageMountain seringa bark
                K. wilmsii Flowers              K. wilmsii Foliage                 K. wilmsii Bark