Leucosidea sericea, or ouhout (old wood) in Afrikaans, is a small, pioneer tree, often a mere straggling, grey-green shrub, that rarely reaches 15 m in height (SA Tree List No. 145). The stems are brittle. Young branches appear unkempt with persistent, hairy stipules.
The leaves are alternate or spirally arranged on the stems, their petioles about 1 cm long. The leaves are imparipinnate, meaning they are compound, bearing paired leaflets along a rachis, at the end of which a terminal leaflet is present. Paripinnate trees have compound leaves on which no terminal leaflets are present.
Ouhout usually has two to four pairs of leaflets on which the terminal leaflet and the adjacent pair are usually the biggest on the leaf. The leaflet shape is obovate, the leaf-tips rounded and the margins distinctly toothed or serrated.
Inflorescences are densely clustered erect racemes at the tips of young branches. The flowers are small and greenish to cream or pale yellow. Each flower has two rows of sepals and five obovate petals. There are ten to twelve stamens per flower. Blooming occurs late in winter and in spring. The fruits are small nuts.
The species distribution is widespread in all South African provinces apart from the west of the country, i.e. it is not found in the Western Cape and the Northern Cape.
The habitat is grassy slopes and kloofs, as well as along water courses at higher elevations but not at the coast. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century.
The tree plays a role in traditional medicine. It is also regarded as an indicator of a stream being suitable for stocking with trout (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Schmidt, et al, 2002; http://redlist.sanbi.org).
(Also see the Plant Record on the species elsewhere on this Site.)