Apodytes dimidiata is the ideal tree for the home garden
as it does not have messy fruits and is safe to plant near the house,
not disturbing the foundations or paved areas.
is a small bushy tree 4 to 5 m tall, but reaching a height of 20
m when growing in a forest. It has evergreen, glossy, bright green
leaves that have a paler green, dull underside. The bark is pale
grey and smooth. Apodytes dimidiata forms small white fragrant
The flowers are frequently produced in striking profusion. The
fruit is berry -like, black and flattened. Fruits have a scarlet,
fleshy, lateral appendage which give the fruit a kidney shape, with
a persistent, finger like style in the notch. A. dimidiata
is a protected tree in South Africa.
Apodytes dimidiata occurs in coastal evergreen bush,
at the margins of medium altitude evergreen forest, in open woodlands
and on grassy mountain slopes, often among rocks. It is a constituent
of the forests such as Knysna, George, Tsitsikama, Alexandria, Amatola,
Umgoye and Dukuduku.
It is in fact one of the best-known forest trees in southern Africa
as it is found from Table Mountain in the Cape Peninsula, along
the coast through Kwa-Zulu Natal, Gauteng, Swaziland and Kenya.
A. dimidiata comprises 3-9% of the total tree population
of the Knysna Forest. Here it grows with yellowwood (Podocarpus
spp.), stinkwood (Ocotea bullata), and assegaai (Curtisia dentata).
The white pear thrives in well-drained, compost-rich soil. Young
plants are relatively slow growing, but they will grow fairly fast
as they grow bigger. This tree needs to be protected against frost
for the first year.
Derivation of name
The genus name Apodytes is derived from the Greek word which
means "to strip off", referring to the uncovered corolla
of the flower. The specific epithet dimidiata means "two
equal parts" referring to the fruit of this tree.
white pear is one of the trees most difficult to identify at a glance.
It is often confused with Pterocelastrus rostratus which
has a similar leaf shape. In 1854, Pappe in his Silva capensis,
referred to Pterocelastrus rostratus as the white pear. At
the International Forestry Exhibition in Edinburgh in 1884, wood
of A. dimidiata was exhibited as that of P. rostratus.
The useful identifying character of the white pear in the field
is the red colour of the petiole and the terminal branchlets.
The excellent smell of the flowers is attractive to insects,
and that is good for pollination. The red aril makes the fruits very attractive to birds including
Blackeyed Bulbul, Rameron Pigeon, Redwinged and Glossy Starlings, Guinea Fowl and Pied Barbets. Black rhinoceras are said to enjoy the leaves and bark.
Uses and cultural aspects
The wood is very hard and is suitable for agricultural implements
and furniture. In the past the wood was used in wagon construction.
This tree is also valued by the Zulu nation in traditional medicine.
An infusion from the root bark is used as an enema for intestinal
parasites. The leaves are used in the treatment of ear inflammation.
Growing Apodytes dimidiata
dimidiata is an excellent tree to use in a landscape in areas
where you need to establish shade right through the year. It also
serves very well as a background planting in a small garden. This
is a nice shade tree to be planted in areas next to the swimming
pool. The root system will not lift up paving and foundations. The
fruits are not fleshy and therefore cause no mess on paved areas.
The white pear is grown from seed sown in late winter or early spring.
Seed should be sown in a seed tray 3-5 mm deep either in a seedling
mix obtained from nursery or a garden centre or a mixture of river
sand and compost (1:1) ratio. Seeds should be dipped in a fungicide.
Cover the seeds with fine sand or fine compost. The seed tray should
be kept moist. Germination is slow, it can take up to 6 months for
all the seed to germinate.
- Coates Palgrave, K. 1983. Trees of southern Africa. Struik,
- Killick, D.J.B. 1973. Apodytes dimidiata. The Flowering Plants
of Africa 43: t. 1695.
- Venter, F. & Venter, J. 1996. Making the most of indigenous
trees. Briza Publications, Pretoria.