Searsia lancea

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Botanical Name
Searsia lancea
Anacardiaceae - The mango family.
SEER-zee-a lan-see-uh
Common Name(s)
English: Karee
Afrikaans: Karee
IsiXhosa: umHlakotshane
Sesotho sa Leboa: mokalabata
Sesotho: Mosinabele
Setswana: Mosabele; Mosilabele
Tshivenda: Mushakaladza
siSwati: iNhlangutshane
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 to Medium
    Tree8m to 15m
    Shrub75cm to 1m
    Perennial/ground cover20cm to 40cm
    Bulb30cm to 40cm
    Succulent20cm to 40cm
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Drought Tolerance: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • 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.
  • Sand tolerant Plants adapted to survive in nutrient poor, very sandy soils.
  • 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 lancea is a low branching, usually single-stemmed, tree which has a dense, rounded, wide-spread canopy of glossy, olive-green foliage. It has a graceful, weeping form, dark, fissured bark and a contorted trunk  The Karee can be used as a protective canopy for frost sensitive and shade loving plants and works well as a wind, noise or privacy barrier.

The karee is of great value for difficult areas and can be planted almost anywhere, including poorly-drained or lime-rich soils. 

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small, inconspicuous, in branched sprays at the ends of branches

  • Winter to Spring 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
  • Moderate to 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.
  • Hedge Suitable trees or shrubs planted relatively close together so that the branches intertwine to create a barrier. This can be formal – the plants are regularly trimmed to produce a neat shape, or informal – the plants are left to themselves to create a natural hedgerow.
  • 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.
  • 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 coastal gardens Plants adapted to dry, sandy soil, forceful wind, limited rainfall and intense sunlight.
  • Water Features These plants may have dramatic, lush foliage or graceful form. They do not shed excessive leaves and do not have invasive root systems.
  • 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.
  • Windbreak Trees planted in a row to form protection from prevailing winds by breaking the force of the wind, thereby reducing wind damage.
Distribution and Habitat

from Zambia in the north to the Western Cape in the south, in all the provinces of South Africa except for KwaZulu-Natal, in Acacia woodland and along streams, rivers and drainage lines.

Planting Suggestions

To encourage quick, healthy growth and a strong root system water very deeply twice a month or more, allowing the soil to dry out slightly in between waterings. Frequent shallow irrigation can result in a poorly developed root system and stunted 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: 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 bark, twigs and leaves contain tannin. The wood is hard and was used for fence posts, tool handles, wagon parts, bowls, pipes and bows. The fruits are edible and were used as an ingredient for honey beer.

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What are the effects of uprooting and transplanting Searsiaa lancea, and which season is suitable for transplanting?

Hi Mikateko

This species has a reasonably small root system and should transplant successfully if proper precautions are taken. As you have not mentioned the size of the tree, it is difficult to give you more information. The tree should be transplanted in late autumn or late winter, before the weather warms up.

The following sites will give you information about how to transplant a tree so that it has a good chance of surviving:

Kind regards

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