Combretum erythrophyllum

Botanical name

Combretum erythrophyllum (SA No 536)

Other names

River bushwillow; vaderlandswilg (Afrikaans); C. glomeruliflorum

Family

Combretaceae

Dimensions

Spreading medium sized, sometimes large deciduous tree of up to 13 m in height; often multistemmed, some may recline at an angle

Description of stem

Light-brown or grey, smooth or mottled; flaking in patches; irregular markings where twigs have disappeared and unevenness in the surface becomes accentuated in older specimens

Description of leaves

Simple, opposite with entire margin; elliptic with tapering base and apex; usually on short lateral twigs; soft, light green and tend to be hairy when young, later leathery and dull green, smooth on top and velvety below; short hairy petiole; bigger and rounder on young trees; in autumn the leaves turn coppery or reddish, creating a strikingly attractive effect

Description of flowers

Creamy yellow axillary spikes, about 2 cm in length and 1 cm in diameter appear in  spring shortly after the young leaves sprout

Desciption of seed/fruit

Four-winged, yellow-brown papery seeds in clusters at the ends of branches remain on the tree through the winter; young fruits are light green and sticky

Description of roots

 

Variation

 

Propagation and cultivation

Grown from seed or truncheons; seeds germinate easily; the young trees are fast growing

Tolerances

Drought resistant

Uses

Wood as timber; popular for planting in (bigger) gardens, parks and on street pavements; the gum is used as a varnish; the poisonous roots still used medicinally as a purgative and for treating venereal disease; the dry seeds are used in flower arrangements

Ecological rarity

Common

Pests and diseases

Insects eat into the young twigs in autumn, causing them to die and fall off

Other

Erythrophyllum = red leaves; species similar to C. caffrum

Location

Riverine forest, at the edge of open water; when away from water, often thrives where ground water is amply available

Distribution (SA provinces)

Northern Cape; North West; KZN; Mpumalanga; Gauteng; Limpopo

Country

South Africa; Swaziland; Mozambique; Zimbabwe; Zambia

Info

Palgrave
Category: Trees
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Links

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