This splendid tree does not yet enjoy the fame it deserves, but
it is a good choice for those gardeners who prefer something different.
It was selected as one of the SA Trees of the Year for 2004.
This is a straight-stemmed tree with a fine, round , leafy crown.
It grows from 6 to 18 m high with a trunk diameter of 0.8 m. The
leaves are sticky when young, colouring splendidly to gold and red
in autumn. The leaf is compound with 6-10 leaflets and one terminal
one. The narrowly ovate leaflets are 20-80 x 10-25 mm, with or without
hairs. The apex is narrowly tapering to a long point.
Kirkia acuminata flowers from October to December with small
greenish cream flowers. The fruits are thinly woody capsules of
about 10-20 x 6-10 mm that are 4-angled, and split into four seed
pods when mature. Each seed pod contains a seed. The wood is yellowish
brown, light and soft .
Kirkia acuminata extends from Gauteng, Botswana, Namibia,
and to the north in Tanzania. It grows in the bushveld and lowveld
of Gauteng in deep, sandy soil or on rocky hills.
Name derivation and historical aspects
The genus Kirkia is named in honour of Sir John Kirk, a famous
explorer and a naturalist. The specific epithet acuminata
probably comes from the narrowly tapering apex to a long point (acuminate).
Uses and cultural aspects
According to Palmer & Pitman (1972), the white seringa is regarded
as a sacred tree in some places in Zimbabwe. The Zimbabwean women
also use the bark of the tree for weaving. In Gauteng, white seringa
is planted around enclosures for livestock (kraals).
Growing Kirkia acunimata
This tree is easily propagated from seed and from truncheons .
If given a well-drained soil in a warm, sheltered position, it will
do well in cultivation. It is a relatively fast grower. White seringa
can tolerate drought, but it is sensitive to frost making it a better
choice for warmer gardens.
References and further reading
- 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.
- Palmer, E. & Pitman, N. 1972. Trees of southern Africa,
vol. 2. Balkema, Cape Town.
- Ross, J.H. 1970. Kirkia wilmsii. The Flowering Plants of Africa
40: t. 1590.
- Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. 1997. Field guide to trees
of southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.