The Water Berry is indigenous to South Africa and occurs naturally along streambanks and forest margins from the Eastern Cape to Kwazulu Natal and further north to Mozambique.
A fairly fast grower, this evergreen tree can grow to a height of 8 to 15 m with a spread of up to 6 m. Featured as a 2012 tree of the year, this species is water loving and will tolerate damp and marshy areas. The leaves are large, elliptical to circular in shape and display a bluish-green colour. New growth has a coppery hue and the tree blooms in early spring. The flowers have pale, creamy white to light pink tints and form an attractive display from August through to November. In addition, the blooms have a large number of stamens that provide a lot of nectar for visiting insects.
Small, oval-shaped fruit follow and turn to a red or dark-purple when mature. The fleshy fruit is edible and will attract birds and small wildlife to the garden. It has a tart taste and are also used to make jam or preserves.
The tree is ornamental, producing masses of flowers in early summer and brightly coloured berries throughout summer. Older specimens have attractively patterned bark and the reddish colour of the new leaves provide extra interest. Care should be taken placing the tree as it has a strong, extensive root system that may cause damage to paving and buildings.