Description and EcologyThe 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 Deudorix antalis 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.
The trees often occur along the banks of dry streams and small rivers in the Little Karoo, the drier areas of Eastern Cape and the southern part of Western Cape.
This tree can be used as a shade and ornamental tree. The leaves are browsed by stock. The seeds are edible either green, or mature. They can be used as a meal if roasted and ground. The bark, if ground and soaked in water, can be used as tannin. Schotia afra can be pruned to shape and can be grown as a bonsai specimen.