The indigenous Millettia grandis is a tall, shade tree with a spreading crown that naturally occurs in Kwa Zulu Natal and the Eastern Cape. It grows to a height of between 5 and 8 m, and even taller, depending on the soil conditions.
The Umzimbeet is a semi-deciduous tree with particularly attractive flowers and fruits. The flowers are similar to the Tree Wisteria in that it has beautiful bluish lavender colours. The pea-like blooms flower from November to March and are carried on spikes that rise above the foliage.
After flowering, the tree produces fruit in the shape of flat, woody pods. The pods are covered with a velvety layer of reddish to golden brown hairs and contain flat, oblong seeds. When the pods split open, the seeds are distributed by the wind.
The tree has an interesting foliage habit, because the leaves turn brilliant gold before being shed, and new leaves follow immediately. The new leaves are coppery in colour and turn glossy dark to blue green above and yellow-green beneath in summer. The Umsambeet is quite fast growing and does not have a very aggressive root system. It is fairly frost hardy, but should be protected from very cold when young. The normal habitat of the tree is fairly moisture rich and as such the tree requires adequate water to flourish.
This is a decorative shade tree that brings butterflies and birds to your garden. It can be utilized as a windbreak, street tree or as a specimen tree in the garden.