Scotia afra is a multi-branched evergreen tree or shrub that can grow to a mature height of 5m. It naturally occurs along the banks of dry streams and small rivers in the Little Karoo, the drier areas of Eastern Cape and the southern part of Western Cape.
This small waterwise tree has glossy dark green leaves which are pinnately compound, alternately arranged and a rugged looking bark. From summer to autumn, the Karoo boer bean produces clusters of pear-shaped flowers which are nectar laden. These flowers attract a wide range of bird and butterfly species to the garden. After flowering, large lime green to pink seedpods which turn brown when ripe are produced.
Scotia afra prefers sunny positions and well drained soils. This moderate to fast growing tree is frost hardy and has a high tolerance to drought. Karoo boer-bean is not messy, and its root system is non-invasive making it a good option for small gardens where there is a limited space available. It is also suitable for coastal areas as it easily adapts to dry sandy soil, forceful wind limited rainfall and intense light. It also makes a magnificent container plant for patios and is suitable for bonsai as well. When clustered around edges of a property, Karoo boer bean can form a colourful impenetrable hedge thereby creating privacy.