Winter is only a month and half away and as such it is time to start planning your transplanting and relocation of deciduous trees!

Celtis africana is a beautiful deciduous tree widely distributed in the Highveld of South Africa. Growing as an individual tree in the open and under favourable conditions, Celtis africana normally grows as a tree of medium height (up to 12 m) but in the forest, it can reach a mature height of 25m. This fairly fast growing tree is common both in high and low rainfall areas.

Leaves of the White stinkwood are alternate, simple and light green when young but dark green when mature. They have three main veins visible from the leaf base. In autumn the leaves turn yellowish before dropping onto the ground to expose the winter sculptural shape of the tree that has a stark beauty of its own. In spring, the light green, new tender leaves contrast beautifully with the pale bark making the tree even more beautiful. The leaves are browsed on by kudu, bushbuck, grey duiker, impala, domestic livestock as well as the larvae of the African snout and blue-spotted charaxes butterflies.

Flowers appear at the same time with the new leaves from August to October. These yellowish green blooms are followed by small roundish fruits which are favoured by birds, rendering Celtis africana a popular tree in planning bird-friendly gardens.

Because of its deciduous growth habit, Celtis africana is ideal for planting in a shrubbery where it provides shade during summer and allows full sun during the winter months. It makes an ideal container plant and responds well to pruning.  This tree is also suitable for bonsai as the leaves dwarf easily. Due to its frost and drought tolerance, Celtis africana is preferred for planting on car parks and streets.

The root system of C.africana is fairly aggressive hence it should be planted away from permanent structures such as buildings, walls, paving and pools. It is also not suitable for planting in confined spaces or small gardens as it grows rather big, and also has a large spread.