Keetia guenzii

Water Needs

moderate; high

Keetia guenzii
Climber scrambler
Climbing Turkey-berry (e), Muthambeni (v)

cover a 9 x 5 m fence

Size

Light Conditions

shade; semi-shade; sun

Frost

moderate

Flowers

creamy white; summer

pergola; sun; semi-shade; shade; shrubbery; screen; wildlife bees butterflies insects; birds

Garden Situation

Habitat

woodland forest; coastal eastern cape; wetland ponds

Region

thicket; subtropical eastern coast; Highveld; bushveld savanna

Rain Season

summer

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Description

This scrambling or scandant (plant with climbing ability) shrub goes quite unnoticed as a background green in woodland and forest areas, but as we count down towards our favourite holiday season, it explodes in soft, frothy creamy white flowers along the full length of each branch. These grow in tight clusters and are sweetly scented, attracting many insect species, bees in particular. Flowering continues from early to late summer. It is though, an attractive foliage specimen year round with long oblong to lanceolata leaves, bright green with a slight sheen to the upper surface. The under-surface can be hairy, and the leaves grow opposite each other along the length of arching branches. Leaves measure between 5.5 and 13.5 cm in length, and 3.5 to 6 cm wide. The petiole (the stalk by which a leaf is attached to the rest of the plant) are covered in tiny hairs. As flowering ends, the fruits appear in great masses, rather oblong in shape, about 7 – 14 mm in size. They turn black when ripe and are an important food for birds, often being eaten while still green. In the wild, long branches send long, searching branches through the canopy and outwards towards the light. In the garden, this scrambler will be an excellent choice for the exclusion zone, a bush clump or wildlife screen. If grown alone it will initially take the shape of a rather lax shrub, sending out shoots later. It does best though, along a fence where its natural scrambling inclination will cover a fence fast, growing up to 1m a year. Full size can be up to 9 m x 5 m in a garden, forming a gorgeous wildlife screen along a fence. Flowers can be expected after 3 years. As the habitat and distribution ranges indicate, it prefers warm regions with moderate to good rainfall. Keetia guenzii is the only species that grows in South Africa with a provincial distribution covering the Eastern Cape, KZN, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. It can be found along the Eastern Escarpment from the Soutpansberg southwards through Swaziland to Maputaland and KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape as far as East London. This species also extends northwards through Africa to Cameroon and Ethiopia. Natural habitats include margins of evergreen forest, thicket and swamp forests. gueinzii: after Wilhelm Gueinzius (1814-1874), German apothecary and naturalist in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

Keetia guenzii
Keetia guenzii