Indigenous to South Africa, Leucosidea sericea is part of the family Rosaceae (Rose family) and occurs mainly in the eastern and northern parts of South Africa. The common name ‘Oldwood’ was given as the tree has a gnarled trunk and flaky bark, resembling a very old tree.
This is a fast growing, evergreen straggly shrub or small tree with great character that enjoys living in damp areas which makes it a good plant for areas with drainage problems. The leaves are dark green in colour and are covered with silky, silvery hairs. The margins of the leaflets are deeply serrated and the leaves have a strong aromatic smell when crushed.
Growing to a height of between 2 to 7 m, the Oldwood can be single- or multi-stemmed and typically branches low down. The crown of the tree is dense and rounded and the trunk is covered with a rough, reddish brown bark that flakes off to expose a smooth, light-brown under bark. The twisted stems of the tree gives it and irregular form and as such it can be utilised well when creating a naturalistic African style garden.
Flowering takes place from August to September and the star-shaped flowers are carried in spikes on the ends of young shoots. The small flowers are green-yellow in colour and will attract insects and bees to the garden with its sticky nectar and plentiful pollen. Fruiting time is from December to January and the fruits are small with a nut-like appearance.
Leucosidea sericea can tolerate harsh, cold conditions and thrives on lots of water, but will also survive moderate drought in the dry seasons.
The Oldwood is a dense, small tree that can be used to screen out noise, objectionable views and provide protection against the wind when shaped into a hedge form. It is a decorative tree with interesting bark and foliage and it will grow well in a sunny or semi-shaded area.