For the identification of insects and other fauna and flora of South Africa: please click on the following links:
Insects and related species: Antlions - Ants - Bees - Beetles - Bugs - Butterflies, Moths and Caterpillars - Centipedes and Millipedes - Cockroaches - Crickets - Dragonflies and Damselflies - Grasshoppers and Katydids - Mantis - Stick Insects - Ticks and Mites - Wasps - Woodlice
Plants, Trees, Flowers: (Note: Unless plants fall into a specific species such as Cacti, they have been classified by their flower colour to make them easier to find) Bonsai - Cacti, Succulents, Aloes, Euplorbia - Ferns and Cycads - Flowers - Fungi, Lichen and Moss - Grass - Trees
Animals, Birds, Reptiles etc.: Animals, Birds, Fish and Crabs - Frogs - Lizards - Scorpions - Snails and Slugs - Snakes - Spiders - Tortoise, Turtles and Terrapins - Whipscorpions
Other photography: Aeroplanes - Cars and Bikes - Travel - Sunrise - Water drops/falls - Sudwala and Sterkfontein Caves etc.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Common Wild Currant (Searsia pyroides)

Family Anacardiaceae
To the gardener who likes variety in the garden, Searsia pyroides should not be left out. This is a good species to provide textural variation in your garden. You will not be alone in choosing this tree as it has been chosen as the Tree of the Year for 2007 together with Pavetta schumanniana.


Description

This is a deciduous shrub or a small to medium-sized, multistemmed tree, frequently with spines. The bark is rough and grey. The leaves are compound, composed of three leaflets (tri-foliate). The leaves are borne on slender stalks, which are furrowed above. The leaflets are oval, narrowing at both ends, sometimes with a short tip. The largest leaflets are up to 70 x 30 mm with a round or a flat tip. They are smooth or velvety above, the lower surface is usually slightly hairy. The midrib and the secondary veins are conspicuous and raised below.

The flowers are inconspicuous and greenish in branched bunches in the axils of the leaves and at the end of the branches.


The fruits ripen in summer to late autumn. They are borne in such quantities that the branches bend with the weight. The fruits are round and small, white and red when ripe.

Ecology

Searsia pyroides is ecologically important in South Africa as are many other species in this genus. As it is found in many vegetation types, it plays a role as a pioneer species in the cycle of plant succession. Birds are particularly fond of the fruits. Wattled Starling and Red-eyed Bulbuls have been seen gorging on them. Elephant, impala and kudu eat shoots and young leaves.

Uses and cultural aspects

The wood is used to make hoe handles. The branches are used to build kraals. The fruit is edible, with a pleasant, sweet-acidic taste. As herdboys we used to enjoy fruit from the wild, among those were Searsia pyroides, Scolopia mundii, Grewia occidentalis and Ziziphus mucronata.

This is a wonderfully decorative tree in a garden. It can also be used as a hedge.