Dombeya rotundifolia, the wild pear or drolpeer in Afrikaans, is a small deciduous tree with exceptional spring flowers (SA Tree List No. 471). It grows in KwaZulu-Natal and north of the Vaal River in South Africa, as well as in Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Namibia and further north into tropical Africa.
One of the early signals of temperatures beginning to rise in spring is the sudden transformation of the leafless wild pear trees into a flourish of sweetly scented white. Soon these forest brides change their colour, as brides do unfortunately, the flowers fading to beige-brown and the new leaves reduce the trees to regular woody members of bushveld and woodland.
Gardeners, even those who live through cold winters or have limited irrigation water, can invest in this fast growing harbinger of warm times (Coates Palgrave, 2002).