This tree is said to attract lightning, but some people use it to
protect their homes!
and reasonably robust, the low-branching, wild peach has smooth,
pale grey bark that becomes rough with age. The variable leaves
of this evergreen tree may resemble those of the peach. The tiny,
bell-shaped flowers which bloom from August to January (spring to
summer), are yellow-green, with male and female flowers on separate
trees. The hard, round, knobbly, greenish yellow capsule which forms
in February to July (late summer to mid-winter) splits to expose
shiny black seeds, enclosed in an oily, sticky, bright orange-red
Kiggelaria africana is found in coastal and inland forests
(where it can reach 20 m), in bushveld and woodland, along streams
and on rocky hillsides-'koppies'. It is widely distributed in Africa,
from Kenya in the north to Western Cape in the south. This is the
only species of Kiggelaria in South Africa.
It is named after Franz Kiggelaer, Curator of Simon van Beaumont's
garden. The Latin word, africana means 'comes from Africa'.
The Crowned Hornbill, Olive Woodpecker, Cape Thrush, Cape Robin,
Cape White-eye, Southern Boubou and mousebirds enjoy the colourful
fruits. Caterpillars of the Acraea horta butterfly (and A.
igola) often strip this tree bare of foliage - one stage in
a natural cycle, as the trees quickly recover and put out a nice
new set of leaves. Larvae of the Battling Glider also feed on the
tree. The Diederik, Redchested, Klaas's and Black Cuckoos love caterpillars,
so these beautiful birds will visit the garden.
Uses and cultural aspects
The hardish, pink-brown wood is a useful general purpose timber
(beams, floorboards, furniture). It was once used for the spokes
of wagon wheels. Some people believe that touching this tree will
attract lightning. But, the South Sotho prepare a medicine from
it to protect their kraals.
Growing Kiggelaria africana
it from seed or cuttings-set out young plants when 30 cm tall to
prevent them from becoming pot bound. With good conditions, young
plants grow fast and flower when two years old. It makes an excellent
screen, forms an effective windbreak, or develops into a large and
wide-spreading shade tree (11 m high x 13 m wide) with a non-aggressive
root system. It has a natural tendency to branch from low down-prune
away the lower branches early on if you want a tree shape.
Reasonably frost-hardy, it likes a moderate amount of water, and
a place in the sun. Always add plenty of compost to the soil when
planting, and apply a thick mulch layer (organic material, e.g.
dried leaves) to protect the surface of the soil. This tree grows
in both summer and winter rainfall areas. It tolerates temperatures
ranging from about - 2°C to 36°C.
- Germishuizen, G., Meyer, N.L., Steenkamp, Y. & Keith, M. (eds) 2006. A Checklist of South African plants. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 41. SABONET, Pretoria.
- ELIOVSON, S. 1973. South African wild flowers for the garden.
- COATES-PALGRAVE, K. 1988. Trees of southern Africa, edn
2. Struik, Cape Town.
- JOFFE, P. 2001. Creative gardening with indigenous plants-a
South African guide. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
- PALMER, E. & PITMAN, N. 1972. Trees of southern Africa.
Balkema, Cape Town.
- POOLEY, E. 1993. The complete guide to trees of Natal, Zululand
and Transkei. Natal Flora Publications Trust.
- VAN WYK, B. & VAN WYK, P. 1997. Field guide to the trees
of southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.
- VENTER, F. & VENTER, J. 1996. Making the most of indigenous
trees. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
- WATT, J.M. & BREYER-BRANDWIJK, M.G. 1962. The medicinal
and poisonous plants of southern and eastern Africa. Livingstone,
Pretoria National Botanical Garden