Peltophorum africanum

Botanical name

Peltophorum africanum (SA No 215)

Other names

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




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




Propagation and cultivation

Grows readily from seed and young plants transplant without difficulty


May not like extreme cold when young


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


Pests and diseases



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


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


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



Peltophorum africanum trunk: Photographed by Johannes Vogel

P africanum branches: Photographed by Johannes Vogel

P. africanum seeds: Photographed by Johannes Vogel