Common names: wild plum (Eng.); wildepruim (Afr.)
SA Tree No: 361
This month, it is only fair to give this big guy some recognition.
You can spot this giant (it can reach 15m in height, ours is about 10m) to your left hand side as you enter the main entrance to Steenbok, close to the Boma and very near the edge of the park and Links Drive.
Being evergreen, its thick, rounded canopy brings shelter from the sun or the rain all year around and is therefore a very popular trees in towns.Take time to look at the tree trunk (right hand photo), while the young bark is smooth, it becomes rough, dark grey-brown as it grows older giving it plenty of character.
The branches are curved, bending upwards and carrying the dark, glossy leaves near their ends (right hand photo). In spring, the new shoots are strikingly beautiful as they shine in a bright maroon colour against the older, darker leaves.
These leaves are pinnate (i.e. they resemble the shape of a feather with each leaflet being attached the the main leaf stalk), they will exude a thin latex if picked and the leaflets are sickle-shaped (left hand photo), sometimes with the odd red leaves amongst the whirlpool-like leaf arrangement.
The creamy whitish-green flowers are found near the tips of the branches with male and female flowers on separate trees, throughout summer (November to February). In the autumn, the tasty plum-like fruits (picture left) first appear green and then turn red when ripe, and are enjoyed by humans, birds and mammals alike.
The name Harpephyllum is derived from the Greek, meaning sickle-like leaves, referring to the shape of the leaflets. The specific name caffrum is indicating its origin : Kaffraria, which is now part of Eastern Cape. This word also means ‘indigenous’.