ARBOR MONTH IN STEENBOK – Grewia occidentalis

Grewia occidentalis – SA Tree Number: 463

A much branched, evergreen shrub or semi climber that grows in protected positions among other species of trees.  An excellent example of this can be seen at the west end of Kingfisher Creek. The pale grey to brown smooth bark can be slightly four-angled.  The small conspicuous star-shaped flowers grow in clusters of 1–3 among the leaves. The flowers are followed by distinctive four-lobed fruits (hence the common name cross-berry).

Star-like flowers
Smooth bark
Leaves are three veined from base

Many birds such as louries, mousebirds, bulbuls and barbets love to eat the ripe fruit, as well as humans!!! The leaves are also food to the larvae of the rufous-winged elfin butterfly (Eagris nottoana) and buff-tipped skipper (Netrobalane canopus).

Uses: the ripe fruit can be dried (in areas where its sugar content is high), it can be boiled in milk (therefore making a bush milkshake!!) or used to make beer. The wood from this shrub / tree is also perfect for bow making and spear shafts.