The flowers of the sickle-bush, as Dichrostachys cinerea is commonly known, grow singly or grouped in pendulous, fluffy, axillary spikes during spring and summer. Spike length is 2,5 cm to 5 cm. The generic name of Dichrostachys is a Greek word meaning two-coloured spike.
The curious bicoloured flower spike has a dense, jumbled mass of hairy pink or lilac staminodes (meaning sterile stamens) at its base, i.e. on top, as the inflorescences are pendulous.
These staminodes vary considerably in colour across regions within the overall distribution range of the tree. The variability is also present within regions and even on individual trees, maybe related to floral age.
The functional flowers in the spike form the narrower yellow section of the cylindrical structure that hangs below the staminodes. Each tiny floret in the yellow section of the spike comprises two whorls of fertile stamens, plus the female floral parts.
The photo shows some of the protruding whitish styles and stigmas of individual flowers. The flowers are fragrant (Van Wyk and Van Wyk, 1997; Coates Palgrave, 2002; www.plantzafrica.com).
Also see the Plant Record under Trees elsewhere on this Site for more information and photos on the species.