Karoo boer-bean tree

Description

The Karoo Boer-been tree is small in stature (max. height 5 m), evergreen, with rigid branches and has a gnarled trunk. The flowers are numerous, bright red to pink in colour and are borne in small clusters during the months of February to March. They are distributed throughout the tree.

Flowers produce copious amounts of nectar which attract birds, especially the Lesser Double-collared Sunbird and Malachite Sunbird. The butterfly Dantalis breeds in the tree. Flowers are followed by attractive, large, lime green to pink seedpods which turn brown when ripe. The seed is dispersed through an explosive seedpod, which when dry, catapults the seeds great distances from the parent plant. Seeds are produced in May and June of each year. Under normal circumstances the seeds would germinate in moist soil in late spring after the winter rains.

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Uses

It has a number of interesting uses. A decoction of the bark is taken to treat heartburn and hangovers. Bark and root mixtures are used to strengthen the body and purify the blood, to treat nervous heart conditions and diarrhoea, as well as for facial saunas. The seeds are edible after roasting, and although low in fat and protein they have a high carbohydrate content.

Distribution

The trees often occur along the banks of dry streams and small rivers in the Little Karoo, the drier areas of Eastern Cape, including Sibuya Game Reserve and the southern part of Western Cape.

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