Virgilia divaricata (SA Tree No. 221.1) is one of the two popular keurboom species of the Western and Eastern Cape. Its equally admired relative is Virgilia oroboides. The two are often confused and botanically not separated by all sources in the literature. The main points of difference are greener, less hairy leaves (mainly lower surface) in V. divaricata with dark purplish keel tips on the flowers. The distribution areas of the two trees don’t help too much as they are largely overlapping with V. divaricata a little more towards the east. Around the George area the distinguishing features of the two species are partly inverted or at least muddled. So, watch this species for future revision(s).
Both are popular in gardens and parks although they do not live all that much longer than 20 years. The large offering of violet-pink to pinkish mauve pea (Fabaceae) flowers and the fast growing nature of both keep them trendy. To make matters more interesting, V. oroboides also has two subspecies, viz. subsp. oroboides and subsp. ferruginea (www.plantzafrica.com; Braam van Wyk and Piet van Wyk, 1997).