Protorhus longifolia is a handsome, medium to large tree that happened to be the rare tree of the year in South Africa in 2012.

This evergreen tree is often found in forest margins, open woodlands and on river banks and is indigenous to South Africa.  Fast growing, the red beech normally reaches a height of between 6 and 10 m, but can attain up to 15 m under favourable conditions.  The attractive, dense, rounded crown has striking, long leaves.  The leaf veins are much lighter than the glossy, dark green upper side of the leaf and conspicuous bright red or yellow older leaves occasionally appear.

Flowers appear from August to October and are small with a greenish-white to yellow colour.  The fleshy fruit matures during October to December and has a pale, purple-mauve colour when ripe.  Fruit eating birds and insects are attracted to the tree and monkeys will also enjoy their fair share!

The red beech grows best in warm, frost free areas and is very drought resistant.  It will tolerate light frost if planted in a protected spot and has a non-aggressive root system.

This is a wonderful specimen tree for gardens and parks with its beautiful foliage and drought tolerance.  The red beech is also suitable as a screening plant and will entice wildlife to the garden.