Monday, May 19, 2014

Croton sylvaticus (Forest fever berry)

Croton sylvaticus is a member of a large tropical genus represented by several tree species in Southern Africa. This extremely attractive tree has a wide, spreading, dense, dark green, leafy crown and the long, straight trunk of this fast growing species can reach as much as 1 meter in diameter. Although the showy, salmon coloured fruits are toxic, various species of birds such as the Red eyed Turtle Dove, the Green Pigeon, Cinnamon Doves, Weavers and Hornbills find the fruit irresistible. The Forest fever tree is host to the well known Green veined Charaxes butterfly and numerous insects are attracted to the flowers..
Botanical Name
Croton sylvaticus
Common Name
Forest fever berry
RSA National Tree No’
The highly decorative Forest fever tree is a superb shade tree for a wide variety of landscaping applications. In October, November and December these trees look absolutely lovely when the abundance of delicate flower sprays appear, but, when the masses of showy, salmon coloured fruit appear, these trees are a truly magnificent sight. Use the Croton sylvaticus for any area where a fast growing and attractive shade tree is needed. This is a lovely choice for shading a patio, creating a shady spot to relax in the garden, or any other recreational area and gives the added benefit of attracting a host of small wildlife as well. Whether The Forest fever tree is planted as a single specimen where its beauty can be appreciated through all the seasons or whether it is planted as a hedge or screen for privacy, this tree deserves to be more widely grown.
Height7 – 13m
3 – 5m
Growth Habit
The forest fever berry is found growing naturally in riverine and coastal forest and inland scrub as well as in moist woodland areas.
The bark of Croton sylvaticus is pale grey and smooth becoming somewhat darker and rougher as the tree matures.
The thin, dark green leaves are long stalked with two small knob like glands at the tip of the petiole. The leaf blade is ovate to ovate lanceolate, tapering towards the apex, distinctly 5-veined from the base with 4 – 5 lateral veins per side and margins with small irregular teeth.
The creamy, to pale yellow flowers are borne in long terminal racemes in spring. Both male and female flowers are produced on the same flower spike.
The soft, rough, hairy fruit capsule is about 13 mm wide, consists of three roundish lobes and is a lovely salmon orange in colour.
There are usually three oval, brown seeds per fruit capsule.
Growing regions
Croton sylvaticus Is mainly found in the warmer regions of the country from Port St Johns along the coast to Kwa Zulu Natal, and up towards Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
Growing conditions
The Forest fever berry performs best in a sunny or semi shaded position with moderate quantities of water. Apply a generous layer of mulch or compost to keep the roots cool and moist.
Best season
Spring - Summer
Although Croton sylvaticus prefers warm, moist conditions, these trees will withstand drier conditions but should be given some protection from frost.
Propagate from seed that has been sown in a good seedling mix and keep seed trays moist but not too wet. Transplant into bags when the second set of ‘real’ leaves appear.
Growth rate
Renowned for its many medicinal applications, many parts of the Forest fever tree have long been used in traditional medicine. The leaves are used as a poultice to treat pleurisy while the bark is used to treat ailments such as rheumatism, bleeding gums and intestinal disorders. The soft, pale timber is used for carving decorative household items.

Croton sylvaticus Flowers Croton sylvaticus fruitCroton sylvaticus foliage

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