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There is a genus Album in every case where enough material has been accumulated to warrant a stand-alone grouping of photos and stories. There are now more than 160 such Albums on genera of South African plants. The biggest ones (most photos) belong to the genera Crassula, Euphorbia, Pelargonium and Aloe. Keep watching, more will be added! If there is no genus Album yet on the plant you are looking for, check under Types or the Search Box.

 

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Sterculia murex

Botanical name

Sterculia murex (SA No 475)

Other names

Lowveld chestnut; laeveldkastaiing (Afrikaans); mohlatsane (sePedi)

Family

Sterculiaceae

Dimensions

Medium to large deciduous tree, may reach 12 m in height; a spreading tree with dense foliage

Description of stem

Branching into a few heavy stems; grey bark or nearly black, that cracks up into rectangular patches, becomes darker with age

Description of leaves

Five oblong leaflets are arranged digitately on every compound leaf; the leaves have long, hairy leaf stalks, whilst the leaflets are without stalks, tapering at both ends; margins entire; velvety surface, with conspicuous netveining on both sides; young leaves have a shiny bronze colour

Description of flowers

Five-pointed light yellow or greenish yellow, recurving sepals present a shapely flower in the absence of petals; flowers occur in conspicuous sprays on leafless branches during spring; some pink dots may occur

Desciption of seed/fruit

Large, five-lobed fruit, 30 cm in diameter, are found in summer and autumn; they are light green and covered in hard, hairy spines; the seeds are large, embedded among hairs that cause irritation to humans; the dry pod lobes are attractively boat-shaped and sometimes used as ashtrays

Description of roots

A caudex occurs at the base of young plants (http://www.bihrmann.com/caudiciforms/SUBS/ste-mur-sub.asp )

Variation

 

Propagation and cultivation

Grown from seed

Tolerances

Tender to frost; thrives in high rainfall areas

Uses

People sometimes roast the seeds for eating; also eaten by baboons and other animals, including rats and mice; a garden tree

Ecological rarity

Restricted to a small area in south-east Mpumalanga and adjacent areas of Swaziland

Pests and diseases

 

Other

This tree is only in name related to chestnuts; there are about 150 species in the genus Sterculia; the genus gets its name from the Roman god of manure, Sterculius, probably because of the unpleasant aroma of some of the flowers (Wikipedia); the genus is sometimes called tropical chestnuts

Location

Rocky, wooded hills

Distribution (SA provinces)

Mpumalanga

Country

South Africa; Swaziland

Info

www.plantzafrica.com

 

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