Also known as
Dogplum, Essenhout (Afr.), Nyamaru
Photo by Shani (All rights reserved)
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Cape Ash Overview
The ape ash is a large attractive evergreen tree that has been used as a street tree in many towns and cities of South Africa, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is also a good ornamental garden tree and its fruits are enjoyed by birds and mammals. The small sweetly scented flowers are white, occasionally also with a pink tinge. They appear in loose sprays, in the summer months (September to November). A fleshy fruit containing four seeds appears green and then turns bright red as it ripens in autumn. The Cape ash tree grows well when it is given lots of water, but can tolerate light drought conditions and very light frost, it is sensitive to heavy frost. This tree is often confused with the wild plum (Harpephyllum caffrum). However, the leaves of wild plum are stiff and not drooping, they are also sickle-shaped. Birds such as Knysna and Purple-crested louries, barbets, bulbuls, mousebirds and hornbills, eat fruits. Baboons, monkeys, bushbuck and nyala readily eat the fallen fruits of the Cape ash. Leaves are browsed by domestic stock and game. ZA Distribution: The Cape Ash grows from the Western Cape, along a coastal distribution through the Eastern Cape, from where the range extends more inland and northwards through KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo Provinces in South Africa. The species extends beyond South Africa into Swaziland, southern Mozambique and into Zimbabwe. It also occurs as far north as Uganda, Ethiopia and the D.R.C.