Every year, two indigenous tree types are proclaimed as the official trees of the year in South Africa. One is always a well known tree that is commonly cultivated, whilst the other is often referred to as the scarce species. The objective is to promote tree plantings throughout the country, especially during arbor week in September. Both of the 2015 trees grow well in the greater Pietermaritzburg area.
Combretum kraussii (forest bushwillow)
An attractive small to large sized tree with a stout stem and dense, rounded crown. The leaves are shiny green above and paler below. In autumn and winter they turn colourful shades of red and purple before shedding as the new spring growth emerges. Small creamy-white flowers in dense clusters are produced in late winter and spring. These produce winged fruit or seed pods that turn red or brown as they dry out during the autumn. Forest bushwillows are highly attractive garden trees, with different elements contributing to the landscape in each and every season. These are common trees in much of the indigenous forest that remains in and around Pietermaritzburg. Withstands light to moderate frosts.
Heteromorpha trifoliata (parsley tree) = Heteromorpha arborescens
The parsley tree is a variable deciduous tree or shrub with sizes contrasting from just 2 metres to 25 metres depending on the climatic and growing conditions. The multi-stemmed main trunks are spindly with satiny smooth bark that is prominent on new growth. The bark peels easily revealing lovely new copper and bronze stems. Leaves are extremely variable, some simple and others compound with numerous different shapes. The leaves turn shades of yellow and red in autumn before dropping. Small yellow flowers in tight clusters are borne in summer and early autumn. They have a strong smell. Cold and frost hardy. Leaves, roots and bark are used extensively in traditional medicine and magic.