Peltophorum africanum

Botanical name

Peltophorum africanum (SA No 215)

Other names

Weeping wattle; African wattle; huilboom (Afrikaans); mosethla (Tswana); umThobo (Zulu)

Family

Fabaceae

Dimensions

An attractive spreading tree of up to 9 m with a dense crown

Description of stem

Grey to brown bark progressively rougher as it ages, longitudinally fissured; multiple branching from a low height

Description of leaves

Compound leaves with 4 to 7 pairs of pinnae, each with 7 to 12 pairs of leaflets, green above, paler below, petiole and rachis characteristically covered in fine red-brown hairs, as are the tips of new leaves growing out

Description of flowers

Profuse and conspicuous axillary sprays of bright yellow flowers in spring and summer; floral parts in fives, the name 'shield-bearing' refers to the shape of the stigma, petals crinkly; attract many insects and a variety of bird species

Description of seed/fruit

Light brown flat, elliptical pods tapering to sharp points at both ends; turn grey when ripening, which occurs in mid-summer and autumn

Description of roots

 

Variation

 

Propagation and cultivation

Grows readily from seed and young plants transplant without difficulty

Tolerances

May not like extreme cold when young

Uses

Planted in parks, along streets and in bigger gardens as a shade tree, wood is used as fuel and to make smaller implements; the dark heartwood is carved; the bark is chewed for colic or an infusion is ingested for stomach disorders; root tissue in powder form applied to wounds; browsed by game and livestock

Ecological rarity

Common

Pests and diseases

 

Other

Spittle bugs that attack the tree in certain geographic areas sometimes cause the tree to drip fluid as a 'rain tree' in spring

Location

Grassland in summer rainfall areas, open bush and wooded valleys, often near termite mounds; thrives in well-drained soil

Distribution (SA provinces)

Limpopo, North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Kwazulu-Natal

Country

South Africa, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, DRC, probably a still wider distribution in Africa

 

 

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