This is a decorative tree, well suited for a summer rainfall garden.
Velvet bush willow is a small to medium-sized evergreen deciduous trees that grows up to 13 m high, with rounded crown. It has grey bark when still young and this becomes grey-brown or almost black when older.
The leaves are simple, opposite, densely covered by velvety hairs when immature and smoother when mature. Young leaves are attractive with light pink or orange colour. Its flowering time is Sept.–Nov. The flowers are in dense axillary spikes with greenish yellow colour, strongly scented and attractive to bees and other insects. The fruit is four-winged, about 20 mm in diameter, light green with reddish shade which turns red-brown when dry.
Distribution and habitat
Velvet bush willow is widely distributed from sea level to about 1500 m, from KwaZulu-Natal towards the northern region of South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and tropical Africa. It is a tree often occurring in open woodlands and in bushveld, frequently associated with quartzite formations.
Velvety bush willow is a tree of the bush and savanna regions of Africa, often occurring on ant-hills, in semi-evergreen thickets and frequently associated with quartzite formations. It is a common tree in Gauteng, for it grows freely on the slopes of the Magaliesberg and on the Waterberg and Soutpansberg mountains.
Uses and cultural aspects
Velvet bush willow tree is important in traditional medicine. Most African people use boiled root decoction to treat constipation, headaches, stomachs, fever, dysentery and swellings, and as an anthelmintic for hookworm. The leaves are chewed, soaked in water and the juice drunk for chest complaints; it can also be used as an inhalant in a hot steam bath.
It is termite-proof and can be used to make fence posts, implement handles and bowls for grinding peanuts and mealies. Red fabric dyes are made from the leaves, whereas dyes made from the roots are yellow-brown.