Philenoptera violacea, the apple-leaf tree, is a small to medium-sized, semi-deciduous tree reaching heights to 10 m (SA Tree List no. 238). It was well-known as Lonchocarpus capassa, the appelblaar in Afrikaans. The tree belongs to a small genus comprising a few species in Africa. It is a protected tree in South Africa.
The leaves are large, hard, compound with conspicuously large terminal leaflets. Flower colour varies from blue, mauve, violet, pink to white. Flowering occur in spring in large terminal clusters. The seeds are produced in large flat fruit pods; these trees belong to the Fabaceae family.
The species distribution is in the Lowveld parts of Limpopo and Mpumalanga, as far south as Maputaland in KwaZulu-Natal. It also grows widespread in tropical Africa as far as the DRC.
The habitat is bushveld, woodland and wooded grassland at various altitudes. The big apple-leaf trees are found near watercourses and floodplains. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century.
The wood is used to make mortars for pounding grain, tool handles and ornaments. Infusions for treating various disorders, including gastro-intestinal conditions, have been made mainly from roots of this tree in African indigenous medicine (www.plantzafrica.com; http://redlist.sanbi.org).