Sapindaceae - The litchi and soap-berry family.
English: Jacket Plum; Indaba Tree; Bushveld Cherry
IsiXhosa: iliTye; umGqalutye
IsiZulu: umQhokwane; umVuma; iNdaba
Sesotho sa Leboa: Mongatane; Mopsinyugane
Jacket-plum is a very long-lived small to medium-sized tree with a spreading, rounded or dome-shaped crown, the shelter of which is popular with nesting birds. The leaves are rough to the touch, dull green with spine-toothed margins. The new leaves emerge with a pinky-bronze colour, which contrasts well with the older dark leaves.
Fruit is a furry-green 3-lobed capsule up to 20 mm in diameter, which splits open to reveal the fleshy orange-red aril which covers the seed. The scented flowers attract insects and birds, the fruits and seeds attract birds and the leaves are the larval food for at least four butterfly species.
Pappea capensis has long been used as a tree under which 'indabas' were held, where chiefs and village elders gathered to discuss tribal issues- perhaps for the pleasant shade, but I believe that it was also valued for it's longevity. I've been told they grow to over a thousand years old. The ancestors of the village have sat beneath this very tree for countless generations - such a tree must indeed generate a deep sense of history.
Pappea capensis produces a high-quality bio-oil with a by-product of a nutritional seed cake for cattle. The Jacket plum was the 2011 common Tree of the Year.
tiny petals with extended stamens carried on catkins
|Distribution and Habitat||
widespread in all the provinces of South Africa, and north to Mozambique, Zimbabwe and further into eastern and southern tropical Africa, in bushveld, riverine thicket, wooded grassland , rocky outcrops in grassland and scrub veld, often found on termite mounds
Young trees are slow-growing but growth speed increases as the tree matures. Growth is also faster in warmer climates or warmer positions of the garden. In cold and dry areas, the growth is very slow. For maximum growth, water deeply every week or two, add compost and fertiliser and mulch well.
I had one that I planted in the veld garden and it sulked for two years and died. I grew some from seed I had collected. They did grow very slowly and showed little growth - shin high after two years . I have planted one of these in my garden. About four months after planting it began to take start putting out new growth.
The old method of digging a deep hole and filling it with soil and compost has resulted in many trees failing to thrive, dying, rotting at the base or worse still, falling over in later years due to poor root development. Refer to the following sites for the best method of planting trees:
For those of you who have a clay problem try:
The bright red, jelly-like, translucent arils around the seeds are edible with sweet-sour taste and can be used to make jelly, vinegar and an alcoholic drink. The seed oil extracted from the roasted seeds is edible but slightly purgative and is used for lubrication, to restore hair and to make soap. A mixture of leaves, bark and seed oil is used to treat baldness, ringworm, nosebleeds, chest complaints, eye infections, and venereal disease. Bark has been used as a tonic and aphrodisiac and for chest complaints. Leaf infusions are used for sore eyes and root infusions are used as a purgative for cattle.