Indigenous to South Africa, Diospyros lycioides is a very hardy, deciduous to evergreen, medium to large shrub that has a variety of applications in your garden.
Growing to a height of between 2 to 4 m, with a similar spread, this small tree has four subspecies in our country. The descriptive name ‘Bluebush’, refers to the distinctive blue-green colour of the foliage, that display flashes of red during the cool, dry autumn. The bark of the tree is dark grey to brown and has a smooth texture on mature specimens. The crown is open and the branches drooping. By pinching out young branch tips, the Bluebush will become increasingly bushy as it grows.
From September to December, sweetly scented, creamy bell-shaped flowers appear on the branches. The flowers attract insects and bees, as well as insectivorous birds to the garden. These are followed by large, round fruits that mature from yellow to red through January to May. The berries have a sweet taste and are eaten by birds, wildlife and humans alike. Only female plants bear fruit, so it would be advantageous to plant more than one tree in the garden.
Depending on the climate, the Bluebush can be slow or fast growing. It is very drought resistant and cold hardy, enabling it to tolerate adverse conditions and is known as a pioneer species for wildlife gardens.
This is a great contrast tree for your garden with its blue green leaves and dense branches. The small flowers and resultant berries add to its year round appeal as an ornamental subject. In addition, the Bluebush is popular as a hedge shrub that can be used for informal screening. The dense branches encourage birds to build nests and as its decorative blooms and fruits attract wildlife, it makes it ideal as an eco-friendly specimen.