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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

WIld Pride of India (Galpinia transvaalica)

Family Lythraceae
Distribution and Habitat
It occurs in low to medium altitudes in woodland and thickets from Zululand and Swaziland to Mpumalanga and Limpopo. This plant is an important fodder plant on cattle and game farms. The bunches of white flowers attract many insect species.
Description
Galpinia transvaalica grows up to 6 m in height and is a multi-stemmed shrub or small tree. The stems are often crooked and the branches lie low. The bark is smooth and pale when young, but has a rough appearance and cracks into blocks when the tree is older.


The leaves are simple, opposite and have a glossy, dark to almost black appearance. They are 20-60 x 15-30 mm in size. The leaf apex is rounded and often notched; the margin is entire and noticeably wavy and the petioles are thick and thickset. Young leaves are coppery to reddish. The tree is very attractive in spring when the old leaves turn red before dropping and the coloured new leaves emerge. In late spring the tree may show a few red leaves hidden amongst the shiny new green foliage.

The flowers are white, up to 13 mm in diameter and borne in dense sprays at the end of branches. The bisexual floral parts occur in fives or sixes. The calyx is bell-shaped and divides into ovate lobes. The petals are crinkly, the ovary 2-chambered and the stamens are attached to the calyx tube. Flowers are present from November to May.
The fruit is a small, round capsule and 3-4 mm wide. It forms compact clusters that are reddish brown to black and is covered with a hard rind, which splits open to release winged seeds. Fruit appear from April to July
Ecology
The hard wood is heavy, pale brown to yellowish brown. Antelope, elephant and giraffe browse the leaves. It is an important fodder plant on cattle and game farms. The flowers also attract flies and butterflies and this in turn attracts many insect-eating birds.
 
Uses and cultural aspects
This tree has good horticultural potential and is quite attractive as a hedge plant. It has a non-aggressive root system and can be planted close to walls and paved areas. The wild pride-of- India can be successfully planted in containers and makes excellent bonsai specimens.

Info: http://www.plantzafrica.com