Leucosidea sericea, Ouhout, is an evergreen, very hardy large shrub or small tree.
 

Leucosidea sericea, Ouhout, is an evergreen, large shrub or small tree that is filled with character. The gnarled and twisted stems with the dark, rough and peeling bark give trees the appearance of being very old. It is extremely cold hardy and although it likes growing in wet soil, it can tolerate drought.  This tree is well suited to smaller gardens and areas that have poor drainage.

Family:                       Rosaceae   (Rose family)

Name Derivation:

  •  Leucosidea – (Greek) ‘leukos’ means white, and ‘idea’ is appearance, referring to the whitish-grey look of the plants.
  • sericea – silky, referring to the silky hairs on the undersides of the leaflets.

Common Names:           Ouhout (Eng & Afr), mosino (Nso), cheche (Sso) umchitsi (Swa), munyonga-tshifumbu (Ven), umtyitya (Xho) and umtshitshi (Zul)

SAF Number:                  145                         Zim Number:                  145

Form:

  • A single or multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree with a dense, rounded crown.

Size:                                   3- 5 m (–10m) by 5 – 6 m  (-9m)

Flowers:

  • Tiny flowers are borne in profusion on spikes on the ends of the branches.

Colour:                            Yellow-green.

Flowering Months:         Jul – Nov

Fragrance:

Crushed leaves are said to have an earthy smell.

The flowers of Leucosidea sericea are small, yellow and borne of short spikes at the end of the branches.When in flower the spikes make the plant look like it is covered with candles.
The leaves of Leucosidea sericea are pinnately compound, the margin of the attractive leaflets are serrated.
Foliage:

  • Evergreen.
  • Compound leaves have 2 – 4 pairs of leaflets with a terminal leaflet 3 – 10 cm.
  • Dark green-grey above, paler below with silky hair.
  • Leaflet margin is serrated.
  • Crushed leaves have an earthy aroma.

Thorns:                          No thorns.

Fruit:

  • The fruit are small brown nuts held in the base of the old flowers.
Bark:     The bark is dark brown, rough and often peeling.

In the Garden:

  •  An attractive and characterful shrub or small tree.
  • Because it is happy in moist conditions it is a good plant for areas with drainage problems.
  • Well suited for next to a waterway or pond.
  • May be used to good effect for screening and informal hedging.

Soil Needs:   Will grow in most soil types.

Care:

  • A low maintenance garden shrub or small tree.
  • Reasonably quick growing.
  • Prune to create a good shape.

Cold Hardiness:              Very cold hardy.

Water Requirements:

    Fairly drought hardy, but likes moist conditions.         

Light Requirements:     Full sun or light shade.

Roots:                                The roots are not aggressive.

Birds:

  • Used by insectivorous birds for foraging and gleaning.
  • Provide nesting sites for some garden birds.
A combination of the dark brown, flaking bark and the twisted and gnarled stems and branches give the impression that Leucosidea sericea plants are very old.
An Ouhout tree, Leucosidea sericea, pruned up and shaped, growing in a small garden in a housing estate in Jukskeipark, Randburg.
Insects and Butterflies:

  • Bees and other insect feed off the flowers.
  • Not recorded as a butterfly larval host plant.

Medicinal:                      The leaves are used for some traditional medications.

Poisonous:                       Not poisonous.

Leucosidea sericea fruit are small brown nuts held in the base of the old flowers.
Notes of interest:

  • A pioneer in forest succession.
  • Young shoots and flowers are browsed by both stock and game.
  • Thickets are used by animals and humans for shelter from both heat and cold ( Eastern Cape and Lesotho).
  • This is the most common indigenous tree in Lesotho.
  • The soft wood is used to start fires.
  • Used for fence posts in wet soil, where the wood is reputed to be long lasting.
Natural Distribution:

  • Found in EC, eastern FS, Les, G, M, L, Swa, KZN and Zim.
  • Endemic to southern Africa.

 Natural Habitat:

  • Grasslands, thickets and savanna-bushveld.
  • Mountain grasslands, kloofs, thickets and stream banks.

© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2012 & 2018.