The indigenous Virgilia divaricata, more commonly known as the Keurboom (“Chosen tree”), is a beautiful, fast growing, evergreen tree. The Keurboom’s river is named after this tree as it occurs in abundance in the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay area.
When young, the Keurboom can grow up to 1.3 m a year, reaching its full height of +- 10m very quickly. The tree has a round headed crown with fairly horizontal branches and fern-like foliage. The leaves are pinnately compound with 5 to 9 leaflets and are green in colour. The bark on young trees is smooth and silver grey in colour, darkening as the tree matures and becoming more textured.
In spring through summer, the distinctive flowers appear in abundance. The pea-shaped blooms are mauve to violet pink in colour, and have a subtle fragrance. Carried in clusters, the flowers are followed by velvety, brown seed pods.
This is an adaptable tree which will grow best in an open, sunny position with well-drained soil. The Keurboom creates shade in a short space of time and can be used as a screening tree. In addition, the tree can withstand windy conditions and is tolerant of frost, once established. Valued for its ornamental appeal, the Keurboom makes a great focal point in the garden while attracting birds and insects with its pretty flowers.