The Wild apricot has an unusual claim to fame. At certain times of the year, the leaves inexplicably emit a strong smell of carrion, which is surprising coming from a tree.
The small to medium sized, evergreen tree is related to the better-known Kei-apple. These two plants are fairly similar in that both trees feature spines and can be used as a security barrier. The Wild apricot however, tends to grow into a tree whereas the Kei-apple remains more bushy.
Dovyalis zeyheri grows to a height of 2 – 8 m and has light grey-brown bark that becomes rough and flaky with age. Spines are not always that obvious, but are single, long, straight and sharp (up to 35 mm). Small, greenish yellow flowers are borne from August to December and male and female flowers are carried on separate trees.
Fruits are found only on female trees and appear from November to May. They are bright orange, fleshy and velvety with crowns of green at the base. The edible fruit tastes sour, but refreshing and makes a good jelly – although some sweetening is needed. This is an excellent wildlife garden tree as the thorns provide protection for birds’ nests, and the fruit is consumed by animals.
The Wild apricot is tolerant of moderate frost, once established and is drought resistant. The root system is not aggressive and as such, the tree can be planted in a container.