298. Cape Ash, Dogplum Ekebergia capensis
Order: Sapindales. Family: Meliaceae
Kruger National Park, LetabaDescription
The Cape Ash is a large evergreen or semi-deciduous, medium-sized to large tree, 7-20 (max. 35) m tall.
Stem swollen at base; branching is erect, then spreading and finally drooping, giving a moderately heavy, flattish crown.
The main stem of E. capensis
is characterised by a rough light grey to almost black bark, with few buttress roots at the base.
The large glossy green leaves that are often tinged with a pinkish patch, or pink edges are pinnate. Leaves compound, 10-36 cm long, 8-18 cm broad, with common midrib, sometimes slightly winged, alternate. Leaflets usually in 3-5 pairs, occasionally up to 7, with a terminal leaflet, leathery, opposite, almost stalkless and smooth; may be long and rather narrow, broadly oval or almost egg-shaped.
The small sweetly scented flowers are white or greenish-yellow, occasionally also with pink tinge, 5-petalled.
They appear in loose sprays, about 8 cm long, in the summer months (September to November). Each panicle consists of 12-70 flowers, making the tree very conspicuous when in full bloom. Male and female on different trees.
A fleshy fruit containing four seeds appears green and then turns bright red as it ripens in autumn. Fruits are round, resembling small apples, thin skinned, almost spherical, 1-2 cm in diameter, succulent.
Cape Ash is often confused with the Wild Plum (Harpephyllum caffrum
). However, the leaves of Wild Plum are stiff and not drooping, they are also sickle-shaped.Distribution
The Cape Ash grows from the Eastern Cape northwards through KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, southern Mozambique, the Limpopo Province and into Zimbabwe. It also occurs as far north as Uganda, Ethiopia and the D.R.C.Habitat
It occurs in a number of different habitats, from high altitude evergreen montane forests to riverine or coastal forests, and from the sea level to about 1500 m above sea level.
; Braam Van Wyk, Piet Van Wyk: Field Guide to Trees of Southern Africa
; Garden Route Guide: 2006 Edition: From Still Bay to Storms River