Wild Plum

Harpephyllum caffrum

Mothekele

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Wild Plum can be trained to grow as a bonsai or as an ornamental garden tree. This drought resistant tree attracts birds and butterflies into the garden. With its thick crown and somewhat drooping leaves, the wild plum is a good shade tree.
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Planning

Difficulty

Easy

Flowering time

Spring, Summer

Fruiting time

Spring, Autumn

Harvesting

Fruits can be harvested once they have ripened in autumn. Pick as needed.

Propagation

Seed

Soak stored seeds in water for a day and then scrub with a brush to remove the fleshy part. Sow shallowly in trays filled with river sand or a normal potting soil. Germination takes 7-20 days.

Cuttings

Dry truncheons in the shade for at least a day before planting. Fill the hole in which the truncheon is going to be planted with a layer of river sand to promote root formation and improve drainage.

Special features

Drought resistant

These plants are fairly drought tolerant once established.

Attracts birds

Knysna Turaco, Purple-crested Turaco, Trumpeter Hornbill, Phoeniculus purpureus (Green wood-hoopoe), Cape Parrot, Mousebirds, Barbets, Bulbuls, Louries, and African Green Pigeons feast on the fruit.

Attracts useful insects

Larvae of the common hairtail butterfly (Anthene definite) and the Eggar moth (Lasiocampa kollikerii) feed on leaves of this tree.

Hedge plant

Plant closely together, they can make a good high screen.

Attracts bees

Special features

Origin

Africa, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Swaziland, southern Mozambique, Limpopo and into Zimbabwe

Natural climate

Sub-tropical

Environment

Light

Full Sun, Partial Shade, Partial Sun

Soil moisture

Moist

Soil type

Loam, Sand

Soil PH preference

Neutral

Frost hardiness

Tender

Uses

Medicinal

The bark is a popular traditional medicine used to treat acne and eczema and is usually applied in the form of facial saunas and skin washes.

Edible

The fruits are edible and can be used to make jams and jellies. With their sour taste, they are a good option for making rosé.

Personality

Family

Anacardiaceae

Flower colour

Cream, Yellow, Green, White

Scent

None

Problems

Wild Plum is generally not bothered by pests or diseases.

Companion plants

Under plant with dry shade loving plants.

Credits

profile iconHarpephyllum caffrum
by Mhlonishwa D. Dlamini, Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden, September 2004 (Copyright South African National Biodiversity Institute, South Africa)
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Knowledge and advice

Search our ever-growing knowledge base to find plants and information. Find out about pests and diseases you should be keeping an eye out for. Watch How to videos or follow step by step guides for tasks in the garden. Free download for your phone or tablet.
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