Pterocelastrus tricuspidatus

Candlewood (Eng.); kershout (Afr.)
Tree Number: 409

Watch out for this beauty at the moment, actually you cannot miss it due to its numerous bright orange seed pods which are carried all along its branches making this tree one of the most colourful in Steenbok.

This evergreen, low-branching shrub or small tree guides you along some of the paths on the way to Kingfisher Creek. They are thriving now that the alien vegetation has been cleared in that area.

 It has a densely branched rounded canopy which may reach down to the ground. It can be compared to a chameleon due to its many different characteristics.

  • Firstly, depending on its habitat, it can grow from 2 to 20m!!!! In Steenbok, they seem to be around 3 to 5m.
  • Secondly, the leaves:

– The colour can vary from yellow-green to blue-green or dark and glossy.
– The shape of the leaves can also be puzzling. From short, broad and oval-shaped to long and slender ; the leaf stalks can be short or medium in length. Most of the time, the tips are rounded, sometimes with a notch, or may be blunt or pointed, with flat or rolled margins.

BUT, no matter the colour or the shape, a great way to identify this shrub is by folding one of the mature leaf which will snap in half.

The small fragrant flowers are a dainty eggshell white are grow profusely in dense flowerheads. They are followed by the colourful seed pods that we can all see at the moment. The picture above clearly shows the funky looking capsule which has split open and is about to release its seeds.

This shrub / small tree has been used by the Xhosa, San and early colonists for many different things. The resin in the roots and branches can be used as glue or a mean to make torches and the wood itself makes good flooring or panelling and due to its resin content, it is also good fire wood.