Indigenous to South Africa, Heteromorpha arborescens is widely distributed throughout the country and is a delightful tree to have in the garden.
This striking, deciduous tree provides ample shade in a smaller or townhouse garden, during summer. The most distinctive feature of the Parsley tree is its bronze, papery smooth bark that curls on itself, before peeling off horizontally to leave ring-like scars below. The new bark has a surface like the finest satin.
The leaves usually have a strong herb-like smell when crushed, hence the name ‘Parsley tree’. The leaves are variable in size and shape and range from light to grey green in colour. During autumn, the leaves turn yellow to red before dropping. From December to January the tree produces greenish-white to yellow flowers. The small flowers are carried in umbels, appearing to form a round spray, resembling a powder puff and attract insects and butterflies. In addition, the tree provides roosting and nesting sites to birds. Small, winged fruit appear from April to July and have a creamy, brown colour.
The Parsley tree grows to a height of between 3 to 7 meters in ideal conditions. It has a fairly fast growth rate and is frost and drought resistant once established. This is a low maintenance tree that should be planted where the conspicuous bark can be shown off to its best.
The sturdy Parsley tree is ideal for the Highveld as it can manage very cold conditions and is a perfect crossover tree to use where you need to balance a wild, indigenous scenario with a more ornamentally structured setting.