Searsia leptodictya

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Botanical Name
Searsia leptodictya
Anacardiaceae - The mango family.
SEER-zee-a lep-toe-DICK-tee-uh
Common Name(s)
English: Mountain karee; Rock karee
Afrikaans: Bergkaree; Klipkaree
Sesotho sa Leboa: Mohlwehlwe
siSwati: inHlangushane
Plant Group
  • Tree A woody, self-supporting perennial plant usually with a single main stem and generally growing more than 6 meters tall.
Plant Size
  • Small
    Tree4m to 8m
    Shrub50cm to 75cm
    Perennial/ground cover10cm to 20cm
    Bulb20cm to 30cm
    Succulent10cm to 20cm
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Attractive fruits, berries or seeds Brightly coloured fruits or berries increase and extend the visual impact of the plant and are especially attractive to birds and other small wildlife.
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate The plant is moderately adapted to arid conditions and can survive short periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen to semi-deciduous The plant is evergreen in warmer, wetter parts of the country, but may lose some of its leaves during winter in colder, drier situations.
  • Frost: Hardy The plant can withstand freezing temperatures or frost without artificial protection.
  • Roots Non-invasive Safe to plant near pools, paving, walls or buildings.
  • Water Wise Plant species originating from low rainfall regions that require less water to survive and thrive than other plant species.
  • Wind Tolerant Plants able to withstand the effect of strong winds.
Specific Information

Searsia leptodictya is a small tree or large shrub with an open rounded crown, often multi-stemmed or low-branching. The rough, dark bark and the light green leaves of Searsia leptodictya create an attractive contrast and the foliage brings an extra dimension to the garden. An excellent shade tree in hot regions. The arching branches make it attractive near a water garden and it creates a light shade canopy for more sensitive plants. Useful as a screen against noise, wind and to provide privacy. An essential tree for attracting birds to the garden. The tiny fruits vary in colour from yellow to reddish-brown.

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minute stars-shaped flowers in loose clusters at the ends of branches

  • Summer to Autumn Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • greenish yellow
Growth Rate
  • Fast Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Attracts Birds This plant will attract birds.
  • Boundary A plant useful for planting around the edges of the property to form a green or colourful backdrop, an impenetrable hedge, to hide walls or create privacy.
  • Pioneer for new gardens A very fast growing plant, able to withstand hardship, that can be used to populate land that has recently been cleared of natural vegetation. These plants pave the way for slower-growing species by adding nutrients to the soil and creating leaf litter.
  • Provides light / dappled shade A tree with an open to sparse canopy, through which varying degrees of sunlight can penetrate.
  • Rock Garden An area constructed of larger rocks, arranged naturally, to emphasise the use of stones as a main element. Generally plants used do not need a lot of care.
  • Screen A tall hedge of suitable plants planted closely together and used as a windbreak, to block a bad view, to separate parts of the garden or as a backdrop.
  • Suitable for smaller gardens Such plants do not have invasive root systems, remain small or controllable and can often be grown in containers.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

Mpumalanga, Free State, Gauteng, Limpopo and up into Zimbabwe, preferably on rocky hillsides within woodlands, along forest margins and in bushveld

Planting Suggestions

Searsia leptodictya grows in most types of soil. Water well until established. The young plant may need to be pruned into shape for the first few years by removing some of the lower branches. With a bit of care, the Mountain karee will grow about a meter a year

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: Planting a tree

International Society of Arboriculture: New Tree Planting

Tree People: Plant the right way

For those of you who have a clay problem try:

Rod's Garden: Planting in clay soil

Medicinal Uses

The edible, but sour fruits are used to make beer.

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