Dombeya = Named after a French botanist Joseph Dombey who
collected plants in South America. Burgessiae = Named after
a Miss Burgess of Birkenhead.
Dombeya burgessiae is a widespread and variable species
growing from KwaZulu- Natal northwards to Tanzania. It occurs naturally
on forest margins, hillsides and slopes and along stream banks.
The pink wild pear is a garden favourite used by many gardeners
and landscapers for its profusion of pink to white flowers borne
in dense clusters which occur from late summer to early winter.
The pretty flowers persist on the plant when they are finished flowering
to provide an attractive display of light russet brown flowers which
may also be used in dry flower arrangements. The fruits are small,
round, furry capsules.
Aside from its use in horticulture, this plant is apparently enjoyed
by black rhinos who reportedly eat both bark and leaves (Palmer
& Pitman 1973, Trees of Southern Africa.). Palmer and
Pitman also record that baskets are made from the exceptionally
Growing Dombeya burgessaie
Due to its small dimensions this tree is ideally suited to the
town house or small garden as it seldom exceeds 4m in height and
has a spread of about the same. Some gardeners may even class it
as a large shrub and it certainly can be used in that fashion especially
in larger gardens or estates where it is very showy planted in small
The leaves of this tree are large, velvety, soft and lobed, reminiscent
of grape leaves. This allows this plant to lend a tropical atmosphere
to the garden and consequently is often used in the landscape near
water features and forest type plantings. The pink wild pear also
grows very well in light shade, which makes it ideal for planting
under the canopy of other trees or against shady southern walls.
This species is both easy and very fast growing. Once planted out
of its nursery bag it can attain its full size in as little as three
Tolerant to both light frost and periods of drought, the pink wild
pear can be propagated with tremendous ease by simply collecting
the dried flower heads, which contain the seed. The seed can then
be extracted from the capsules and sown in a well-drained seedling
mixture in spring. The seed germinates well and seedlings can be
transplanted into individual containers during the same season and
then planted out into the ground once they are knee high or higher.
There are about 190 species of Dombeya, 7 of which occur
in South Africa. Other species that are commonly cultivated include
D. rotundifolia and D. tiliacea.
Witwatersrand Botanical Garden