Wednesday, September 11, 2013

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

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