Schotia afra is a small, evergreen tree to plant in a small garden. Growing to a height of between 3 and 5 m, this indigenous specimen has a non-invasive root system that will not interfere with walls and foundations. In addition, it is not a messy tree, making it ideal for a townhouse garden or an area where there is little space available.
This small, water wise tree has rigid branches and a characteristic gnarled trunk. The leaves are pinnately compound, alternately arranged and have a fine appearance. New reddish leaves emerge during spring and mature to a glossy dark green. From February to March, spectacular pink to bright red flowers are produced in small clusters. The flowers are numerous and produce an abundance of nectar which attracts birds and butterflies. After flowering, large, lime green to pinkish seed pods are formed which turn brown when ripe. The seeds are produced from May to June each year. These woody pods are edible and were used by indigenous people as food. It is also browsed by animals, domestic and wild.
In the Western Cape, the trees look spectacular when in full flower next to the drabness of the surrounding summer vegetation. Schotia afra can be pruned to shape and can be grown as a bonsai specimen. A slow grower, this fairly hardy tree can tolerate dry conditions, but should be protected from frost when young.
The Karoo boer-bean provides colour and interest all year round with its foliage, flowers and seeds while attracting wildlife to your garden.