Philenoptera violacea, the apple-leaf tree, is a large, semi-deciduous tree that grows throughout the eastern regions of South Africa from Eastern Cape to Limpopo and in several of the neighbouring countries, up to the DRC. It was well-known as Lonchocarpus capassa, the appelblaar in Afrikaans. The tree belongs to a small genus with other African members. It is a protected tree in South Africa (SA Tree List no. 238).
The leaves are large, hard, compound with conspicuously large terminal leaflets. Flowers occur in spring in large terminal clusters. Flower colour varies from blue, mauve, violet, pink to white. The seeds are produced in large flat pods as these trees belong to the Fabaceae family.
The wood is used for dug-out canoes, mortars for pounding grain, tool handles and ornaments. Infusions for treating various disorders, including gastro-intestinal conditions, have been made from this tree in African indigenous medicine (www.plantzafrica.com).