Cussonia spicata, commonly known as the cabbage tree or in Afrikaans kiepersol, becomes an attractive small tree with much branching in its crown (SA Tree List No. 564). It may grow to heights ranging from 3 m to 10 m.
C. spicata bears greenish yellow, stalkless flowers in terminal, candelabra-like umbels, each comprising eight to twelve spikes upon which many florets are densely packed. The flowers may be seen from late spring to end autumn, followed by angular, purple fruit; the fleshy drupes clasped by persisting floral bracts.
The species is distributed from the Western Cape coast (but not on the Cape Peninsula) in a coastal strip through the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal to southern Mozambique and inland to all the provinces north of the Vaal River. It also grows in several tropical African countries, including Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Its habitat is bushveld, forest margins, mountain slopes and rocky outcrops. The species is not considered threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Schmidt, et al, 2002; www.redlist.sanbi.org).
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