Caitlin von Witt 2020-10-25
- The leaves of this remarkable tree provide food for Acraea horta caterpillars, which strip the branches to make way for new leaves that resemble those of the eponymous peach tree. The caterpillars are in turn eaten by Klaas’s, Diederick’s and red-chested cuckoos here in Cape Town. And if that’s not wildlife-friendly enough, insects pollinate the pretty pale yellow flowers and a variety of birds relish the fruit with its colourful orange seed coats!
- Flowering time: August-January
In your garden: If there’s one tree that will attract biodiversity to your garden, this is it. As a fast-growing pioneer, it is easy to grow and serves as a windbreak in coastal areas, or grows to a large tree of 8-12m in more sheltered gardens. Plant in full sun to semi-shade, water well to establish and add a thick layer of compost or wood chip mulch.
Distribution: Cape Peninsula to Kenya, from the coast to inland forest, often along streams but also on dry slopes. Within their range they play an essential role in supporting the return of wildlife to highly transformed urban areas. Besides being key contributors to Cape Town’s green lungs, their prevalence in the Zandvlei catchment helps take pressure off the Critically Endangered Cape Flats Sand Fynbos at Tokai Park by offering shaded trails for walkers in the Constantia greenbelts.
Image: Acraea horta butterflies on fresh leaves of Kiggelaria africana ©️ Caitlin von Witt