Monday, November 18, 2013

TreeCo Saves 80 Year Old Olive Trees

The average life expectancy of an Olive Tree is between 300 and 600 years, so when we were approached by Mr and Mrs James and Kerry Stuart to rescue and relocate 20 beautiful Calamata Olive Trees which we’re planted on their family farm by their Great Grandfather some 80 years ago, we jumped at the opportunity.

To rescue a fully grown tree is a formidable challenge. From ensuring the roots remain as undisturbed as possible, to physically moving the trees – great care must be taken to stress the tree as little as possible if it is to survive.

At TreeCo we have successfully rescued and relocated numerous fully grown trees and to date, we have not lost a single one. The secret very clearly lies in how the trees are handled during the relocation process and then importantly – the replanting process.

Using organic compost and our Wurmbosch worm tea, a balanced, incredibly fertile soil ecology is created which is rich in naturally occurring microbes. This enhances healthy root growth which is crucial if a mature tree is to thrive after it has been relocated and replanted.

Our organic growing methods also enable the trees to maintain their own natural level of resilience to pests and diseases, which ultimately provides them with more energy to settle quicker and grow at a natural and consistent speed.

Typically it takes 2 years for a tree to settle completely and so we will be keeping a close eye on these 80 year old Calamata Olive Trees for the next 24 months before we offer them for sale.
Hoisting the first Olive tree on to our truck.
Back at the nursery the TreeCo team gets to work to fit our rescued Olive trees into their new 3000lt bags.
Almost done - the last of our 20 rescued Calamata Olive trees is settled into her new home!
Here is David, one of our keen team members treating our rescued Calamata Olive trees to what the trees consider a delicious Wurmbosch worm tea! It is this organic substance which makes all the difference to our beautiful trees!

Important Plant Families in South Africa - Celastraceae

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.

Celastraceae (Spike Thorn family)

This very large, familiar family is represented by approximately 60 tree species in southern Africa. Although this is a rather indistinct family, once one becomes more familiar with it, plants with a typically ‘celastraceous’ appearance can more easily be identified.

The young twigs on most species are generally angular and greenish in colour. Some species are unarmed while others are conspicuously spiny.

The mostly leathery leaves are either alternate or borne in clusters with translucent venation on the lower surface. There are a few species that have rubbery threads where the leaves are broken. Although the shape of the leaves varies, most taper at the base.

The small white or greenish flowers are inconspicuous, bisexual or unisexual and are solitary or in cymes or groups.

The fruit is a roundish or lobed capsule that splits open revealing I – 8 distinctive seeds with a fleshy orange or whitish aril.

The Celastraceae family has no particular economic importance but some species with decorative, often variegated foliage, are well known ornamentals. These include Euonymus and Celastrus.

Some examples of this widespread family include: Maytenus heterophylla (Common spike thorn), Maytenus senegalensis (Confetti tree), Maytenus undata (Koko tree), Catha edulis (Bushmans tea), Cassine crocea (Red saffron), Cassine papillosa (Common saffron) and Cassine peragua (Bastard saffron).

Classification Annonaceae

Spectacular Monthly Tree - November 2013

The popular and hardy Brachylaena discolor is a well known small to medium sized tree that is suitable for a wide range of landscaping applications. These trees are particularly common along the Eastern Cape and Kwa Zulu Natal coastline where they are often used for dune consolidation. The name discolor refers to the two toned leaves that are glossy, deep green above and silvery white below. The creamy white flowers appear in terminal panicles and the fruit consists of a small nutlet with a tuft of bristly hairs at the tip.

We are currently running a special on these attractive trees as they are an ideal choice for difficult areas, or, for creating a lovely contrast to other plant material. Our well grown, sturdy specimens are now only R280 each, so you can easily afford to buy a few to enhance your landscaping project

Botanical Name
Brachylaena discolor
Common Name
Coast silver oak
Size Available
50 lt
Quantity in Stock
Average Tree Height
2.2 m
Average Trunk Thickness
3 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 November 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.

Sterculia murex (Lowveld chestnut)

The magnificent Sterculia murex is generally associated with the warm, lowveld region of South Africa but beautiful specimens can be viewed in many of our botanical gardens, including Kirstenbosch, which has a Mediterranean climate. Provided these superb trees are planted in a sheltered position and provided with adequate water, they will thrive in all but the coldest and driest parts of the country. The fascinating form of the amazing fruit as well as the dense sprays of sunny yellow flowers with crimson spotted centre, make this one of our most handsome indigenous trees.
Botanical Name
Sterculia murex
Common Name
Lowveld chestnut
RSA National Tree No’
The selection of indigenous trees that lend a truly tropical feel to the landscape is fairly limited but this is where the strikingly beautiful Lowveld chestnut comes into its own. The cool green, foliage has a distinctly tropical appearance while the highly decorative sprays of flowers and the unique, spiky fruit provide added interest throughout the growing season. This extraordinary, medium sized tree will greatly enhance a tropical themed landscape while a single specimen will create an unusual and rewarding focal point in any garden. As Sterculia murex is deciduous, it will allow sunlight into the garden in winter and the magnificent bronze hue of the newly sprouted, young foliage adds instant colour in spring. Wherever a unique and interesting tree is sought for the landscape, the superb Lowveld chestnut is an excellent choice.
Height6 – 12m
4 - 5 m
Growth Habit
Sterculia murex is found growing naturally in open forest areas, stony wooded hillsides and rocky ridges as well as in bushveld regions.
The Lowveld chestnut has thick ribbed bark that is grey brown in colour. As the tree ages the bark becomes almost black and develops distinctive cracks in rectangular sections.
The spring foliage of Sterculia murex is a lovely bronze colour becoming bright green as the foliage matures. The velvety, palmately compound leaves comprise 5 to 10 oblong leaflets on short stalks that are joined at the centre.
The attractive waxy yellow flowers are marked with crimson spots towards the centre and are borne in large, axillary clusters in spring.
The unusual 5 lobed fruit are large, measuring 30cm diameter in some cases. The woody shells are covered with hard, spiny protuberances. The seeds are embedded in hairs that can cause severe skin irritation.
The large seeds are black or charcoal grey.
Growing regions
Sterculia murex is endemic to the warm lowveld region of the country namely Mpumalanga, but a few specimens can be found as far as Swaziland. There are some fine examples on the hills near the Pretorius Kop entrance of the Kruger National Park.
Growing conditions
The Lowveld chestnut prefers a well watered or moist location with well drained soil in full sun or semi shade.
Best season
Spring / Summer
These beautiful trees do not tolerate heavy frost so they should be given some protection in the colder regions of the country.
The large seeds of Sterculia murex germinate readily and should be placed on top of a coarse potting mixture or fine bark for best results. The roots develop before the leaves appear. Propagation from cuttings is generally quicker and easier however.
Growth rate
Although the wood of Sterculia murex is not suitable for use, it is the amazing, 5 lobed spiky fruit that are much sought after. The hard pods of the fruit are almost indestructible and last indefinitely. This makes them extremely popular as ashtrays and snack bowls as well as for making unusual ornaments. The large, black, edible seeds are very nutritious having a high protein and oil content. The seeds have a lovely, sweet flavour and are absolutely delicious when roasted over a fire.
Sterculia murex flowersSterculia murex barkSterculia murex seed
       S. murex Flowers and Foliage        S. murex Bark                     S. murex Seed