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 for even townhouse gardens.
Family: COMBRETACEAE (Bushwillow Family)
- 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 collected 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
Form: A small to medium tree, single stemmed with well shaped crown.
Size: 5 – 10 m (25) by 4 – 8 m
- 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.
Flowering Months: Sep – Jan.
Fragrance: Not fragrant.
- Evergreen to semi-evergreen.
- Leaves surrounding the flowers may turn white during flowering, otherwise 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.
- 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 reddish brown.
- Each fruit has one wrinkled seed that looks a bit like a small walnut.
- 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.
- 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.
- Plant as a specimen trees
- May also be planted in groves 5-7 m or more apart.
- Plant 3 m apart to form a screening hedge
- A low maintenance plant.
- May be pruned up when young to form a perfect shade tree.
- Feed at least annually 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.
- Used by birds for roosting, nesting and foraging for insects.
- The seeds may eaten by some birds.
- Adult butterflies visit the flowers for nectar.
- Bees visit the flowers for nectar.
- Powdered roots are used as an enema to cleanse the system or as a tonic to improve the appetite.
Poisonous: Not poisonous.
Notes of interest:
- The wood is yellowish and is tough.
- The sawdust is irritating to some people’s skin and may cause blistering.
- Found in the EC, KZN, Swa, M, L and extreme south of Moz.
- Endemic to southern Africa.
- Forests, savanna-bushveld and grasslands.
- Grows in Afromontain forests, rocky outcrops and in woody ravines.
© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2017.