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tree of the week Pappea capensis – Jacket plum – Doppruim – Mongatane

Pappea capensis – Jacket plum – Doppruim – Mongatane

Pappea capensis a South African tree in the family Sapindaceae is the only species in the genus Pappea. This semi-deciduous small to medium-sized tree is widespread throughout South Africa, from the Northern Cape down to Gauteng, spanning regions like the Karoo, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal. It’s a common sight in savanna grasslands and rocky areas, growing at a moderate to slow pace.

The leaves of the jacket plum are simple, oblong and rough textured. In Spring, new pink bronze leaves appear blending harmoniously with the older, dark green foliage, creating a charming display in any garden. Adding to the tree’s beauty are the scented flowers which attract insects and birds to the garden from September to March. P. capensis is monoecious, male and female flowers are present on the same plant. After flowering, round green velvety capsules are produced, and these fruits split open to reveal bright red very juicy fruits with a tart flavour.

Beyond its aesthetics, the Jacket plum serves practical purposes, being suitable for urban environments like streets and parking lots due to its non-invasive roots and ability to withstand frost. It also thrives as part of a mixed screen, wind barrier, or natural bush cluster in wildlife-friendly gardens or large landscapes such as parks and golf courses. Moreover, P. capensis has medicinal properties, with its leaves, bark, and seed oil utilized in treating various ailments like ringworm, nosebleeds, chest complaints, eye infections, and venereal diseases.

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