Indigenous to South Africa, Croton gratissimus is a tall shrub or small tree that flourishes in a smaller garden. Growing to a height of 2 to 7 m in South Africa, this deciduous tree has the ability to grow much taller under optimal conditions. A slender tree with fine, drooping foliage and branches, the Lavender Fever Berry has an upward spreading crown.
This ornamental tree’s leaf is glossy green on top and has a silvery white bottom with reddish scales. The older foliage has a burnt orange tint which contrasts sharply with the younger green leaves. The small flowers are creamy yellow, opening months after the small buds have been formed. Flowering takes place from July to September and are followed by small fruits that mature to a yellowish colour. The fruits dry out during autumn and literally explode, dispersing seeds far and wide.
The versatile Lavender fever berry is a neat, compact tree for use in a smaller garden, and this butterfly host also fares well in a container. Happy with partial shade or full sun, the Croton is a water wise, refined specimen that will add a flamboyant touch, while adapting to garden size restrictions.
An interesting fact regarding the Lavender fever Berry is that the Bushman name for the tree is Maquassie and that the aromatic young twigs were dried and powdered by Khoi girls for use as a perfume.