Kirkia acuminata, commonly the white kirkia and in Afrikaans the witsering (white syringa), is an all year-round imposing presence in the dense bush of northeastern South Africa. The pale green new leaves are sticky in spring, old ones spectacularly coloured in autumn yellows or reds. It is a medium-sized, deciduous tree growing from a single stem, reaching heights around 6 m to 15 m (SA Tree List No. 267).
The leaves are imparipinnate, i.e. compound in six to ten pairs, a terminal leaflet present. The leaflets are narrow and ovate, attenuating to long, acutely pointed tips, rounded or tapering at the base. Leaflet dimensions are variable, from 2 cm to 8 cm long and 1 cm to 2,5 cm wide. The margins are scalloped to finely toothed.
The flowers are small (7 mm in diameter), greenish cream in lax, axillary heads. The inflorescences are branched and many-flowered. The fruit is a thinly woody, pale brown capsule. It splits into quarters when ripe, holding one seed in each.
In South Africa the tree grows only in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, widespread across neighbouring southern Africa.
This tree is at home in a dry bushveld and woodland habitat, often confined to rocky ridges and outcrops at lower altitudes. The trees mostly grow in dolomitic and granitic soils. Dry winters and hot summers preferably with thunder storm afternoons characterise the world of the white kirkia. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Schmidt, et al, 2002; iNaturalist; http://redlist.sanbi.org).