Deciduous to semi-deciduous, Dombeya burgessiae is a hardy, multi-stemmed large shrub or small tree that does extremely well in our summer rainfall areas in South Africa. It occurs naturally in Mpumalanga, KwaZulu Natal and Limpopo, but is adaptable to other areas.
Growing to a height of between 2 to 5 m, with a similar spread, the Pink wild pear is best known for its attractive foliage and the pretty flowers it produces. The leaves are large with a soft texture and have a heart shape. The grey-green leaves provide good screening and as it is fairly fast growing, the tree can act as a quick privacy screen for the impatient gardener.
Fragrant flowers, varying in colour from white to deep pink are produced from April to August. These flowers are cup-shaped and grow in axillary clusters close to the branch tips on long stalks, attracting bees and insects. The dried flowers stay on the tree, creating a contrast to the foliage and can also be used in dried flower arrangements or as potpourri. Fruit follows in the months of June to October, producing a smallish capsule with a velvety feel to its covering of tawny coloured hairs. The seeds split when ready and release their dark brown seeds.
The Pink wild pear is frost resistant, once established, and has moderate watering needs. The tree takes well to pruning and can be planted in full sun or semi-shade. Aside from its screening properties, this is a good specimen for a smaller or townhouse garden where it can flourish as an ornamental small tree.