Today the native Cussonia paniculata takes centre stage as our tree of the week. With its unique shape and appearance, this is one of the easiest trees to identify from a distance.

Although evergreen, the Mountain cabbage tree might lose its’ leaves in areas that are subjected to heavy frost. The foliage however bounces back in spring with beautiful large grey-green leaves that are hand-shaped. The tree rarely exceeds 5 m in height and has a thick, squat stem and fissured, dark-grey, corky bark. The rounded canopy are made up of many large, crooked branches that divide fairly high up into the tree.

Both the flowers and fruit grow on spikes that are grouped together like a candelabra, and protrude beyond the edge of the canopy. Flowers in various stages of development can be seen most of the year. This tree is not a fast grower, but is drought resistant, and can be frost sensitive when young. The Mountain cabbage tree has an extensive and aggressive root system and care should be taken when planting close to pools, paving and walls.

The Kiepersol loves sunny, rocky places and makes a beautiful focal point in an indigenous sloped garden. It can also be successfully grown in a pot and is suitable for use as a Bonsai. At this time of year, the tree is easily spotted on the koppies in the Hartebeespoort and Heidelberg areas where the trees stand out against the grassland slopes.