Schotia brachypetala

Water Needs

low; moderate; water wise

Schotia brachypetala
Tree medium; Tree large
Weeping Boer-bean

8 - 15 m

Size

Light Conditions

sun; semi-shade

Frost

moderate

Flowers

red; spring summer

accent tree, wildlife bees butterflies butterfly host insects birds; sun; semi-shade; slope bank

Garden Situation

Habitat

woodland forest; grassland; bushveld

Region

thicket; subtropical east coast; highveld;

Rain Season

summer

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Description

Schotia brachypetala This gorgeous medium sized tree fights with Erythrina latissima for top honours in my garden; the unusual deep red wax-like flowers and dripping nectar are almost unrivalled. A deep waxy red, they begin as closed buds almost black against the bark and in the shade of the canopy. These open to a bright red so filled with nectar they are able to satisfy the demands of a variety of nectar lovers. As with the Tree Fuchsia (Halleria lucida), the flowers grow along the length of the bark on old wood and can be seen anytime from August to November. Quite variable in its flowering time the timing seems to depend on sun and slope: an older specimen in my garden never flowered until an exotic tree shading it was cut down, whereas a newly planted tree in full sun flowered within 4 years. Its habitat also influences its shape with hot, dry areas resulting in quite a chunky specimen. This tree always commands attention: the fresh leaves of spring are a reddish/coppery in colour, becoming a bright green as the spring rains arrive, eventually ageing to a darker green through the year. The texture is smooth, almost waxy, with slightly wavy margins, an attractive contrast to the rough grey to brown bark. Schotia brachypetala is often evergreen to semi deciduous in warmer climates but tends to lose its leaves in a cold winter. The flowers are followed by hard woody pods, flat and dark brown in colour which splits open whilst still on the tree. They are ready for collection by late summer and early autumn. The natural habitats are quite varied: it occurs in warm, dry areas in bushveld, deciduous woodland and scrub forest most often on the banks of rivers and streams or on old termite mounds. The weeping boer- bean can be found in the Eastern Cape, through KwaZulu Natal, Swaziland, Mpumalanga, and Northern Province and into Mozambique and Zimbabwe. It is a hardy species but needs frost protection when young. Schotia is a good choice as a water wise shade tree, and its non-aggressive roots should not pose problems to foundations and paving. Wildlife offerings: This species has a lot to offer both wildlife and the gardener: it makes a great shade tree (although it can spill its nectar and so is not recommended by many as a tree to shade cars!), and provides gorgeous leaf colour changes through the year. For the wild-life gardener, a wide variety of nectar, seed eating and insectivorous birds will be frequent visitors as will bees, insects and butterflies and the dense summer and autumn canopy provides shelter and nesting sites. Schotia brachypetala is the larval host to the Large Blue Emperor and Foxy Emperor butterflies and is suggested to be the host tree to a wide variety of moth species. August flowering extends feeding time with little else on the menu. The good quality wood makes attractive termite resistant furniture.

Schotia brachypetala
Schotia brachypetala