Combretum kraussii

July 28, 2013

 

Combretum kraussii (Forest Bushwillow) is a compact tree of classic form that can be used as a shade tree in small gardens.

Combretum kraussii (Forest Bushwillow) is a compact tree of classic form whose leaves turn deep reds and purples in autumn and winter.

Combretum kraussii (Forest Bushwillow) is a shapely small to medium tree. These trees turn bright red to purple in autumn and winter. Fast growing, they are ideal shade trees, even for smaller townhouse gardens.

Family              COMBRETACEAE        (Bushwillow Family)

Name Derivation:

  • Combretum – a name originally given by Pliny to a climbing plant of another genus.
  • kraussii – after Dr. Christian F.F. von Krauss (1812 – 1890), who first collected this plant.

Common Names:          Forest bushwillow (Eng), bosvanderlandswilg (Afr), modubu (Nso), imbondvo lemhlophe  (Swa), muvuvhu-thavha (Ven), ulandile (Xho) and umdubu wehlathi (Zul).

 SAF Number:                   540

 

Combretum kraussii (Forest Bushwillow) has small creamy-white flowers on a short spike.

Combretum kraussii (Forest Bushwillow) has small creamy-white flowers on a short spike.

Form:                                A small to medium tree, single stemmed with well shaped crown.

Size:                                  5 – 10 m (25) by 4 – 8 m

Flowers:

  • Small, creamy-white flowers are borne on dense, short spikes in the leaf axils.
  • The leaves surrounding the flowers may lose their chlorophyll and turn white while the tree is flowering.

Colour:                             Creamy-white.

Flowering Months:          Sep – Jan.

Fragrance:                        Not fragrant.

 

Combretum krausii leaves are simple and dark, shiny green in summer when mature.

Combretum krausii leaves are simple and dark, shiny green in summer when mature.

Foliage:

  • Evergreen to semi-evergreen.
  • Leaves surrounding the flowers may be white, mature leaves are dark, shiny green.
  • Simple elliptic or oblong-elliptic leaves are carried on short lateral twigs.
  • Leaf margin is entire, wavy and rolled under.
  • Leaf veins are conspicuous.
  • Leaves turn brilliant autumn colours before dropping as late as September as new leaves are forming.

Thorns:                             No thorns. 

 

Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) has four winged fruit that are reddish when young.

Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) has four winged fruit that are pinkish to dark reddish when young.

Fruit:

  • The characteristic four-winged fruit are smallish (2 * 2 cm).
  • They stay on the tree for a long time.
  • The wings are pinkish to dark red, drying to a light brown.
  • Each fruit has one wrinkled seed that looks a bit like a small walnut.

Bark:

  • The grey to dark grey bark is smooth, becoming flaky with age.

In the Garden:

  • A very attractive feature or shade tree for gardens, pavements and parks.
  • Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) fruit dries to a light brown.

    Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) fruit dries to a light brown.

    A good screening tree.

  • The change in leaf colours highlight the changing seasons in the garden.
  • Ideal for planting along driveways or in paving as roots are unlikely to lift paving.
  • Will make a good container tree if fed and watered regularly.
  • Fast growing, up to 1 m per year.
  • Protect from cold while young, but quite hardy once established.

 

Soil Needs:                         Good soils rich with compost.

 

Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) may be pruned up when young so that the mature tree can form a lovely shade tree.

Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) may be pruned up when young so that the mature tree can form a lovely shade tree.

Care:

  • A low maintenance plant.
  • May be pruned up when young to form a perfect shade tree.
  • Feed with organic fertilizer and mulch with compost.
  • Protect young plants against the cold in winter.

Cold Hardiness:                Semi-tender when young, mature trees are hardy.

Water Requirements:        Likes regular water but will withstand some drought.

Light Requirements:          Sun or shade.

Roots:                                  The roots are not aggressive.

Birds:

  • Used by birds for roosting, nesting and foraging for insects.
  • The seeds may eaten by some birds.

 

The leaves of Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) turn beautifull reds and purples during the colder months of the year.

The leaves of Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) turn beautifull reds and purples during the colder months of the year.

Butterflies:

  • Adult butterflies visit the flowers for nectar.

Bees:

  • Bees visit the flowers for nectar.

 Medicinal:

  • Powdered roots are used as an enema to cleanse the system or as a tonic to improve the appetite.

Poisonous:                       Not poisonous.

 

The leaves around the flowers of The leaves of Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) lose their chlorophyll and give the tree a very pale appearance.

The leaves around the flowers of Combretum krausii (Forest Bushwillow) lose their chlorophyll and give the tree a very pale appearance.

Notes of interest:

  • The wood is yellowish and is tough.
  • The sawdust is irritating to some people’s skin and may cause blistering.

 

Natural Distribution:

  • Found in the EC, KZN, Swa, M, L and extreme south of Moz.
  • Endemic to southern Africa.

Natural Habitat:

  • Forests, savanna-bushveld and grasslands.
  • Grows in Afromontain forests, rocky outcrops and in woody ravines. 

© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2013.

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