"Self-sufficiency does not mean 'going back' to the acceptance of a lower standard of living. On the contrary, it is the striving for a higher standard of living, for food that is organically grown and good, for the good life in pleasant surroundings... and for the satisfaction that comes from doing difficult and intricate jobs well and successfully." John Seymour ~ Self Sufficiency 2003

Saturday 13 September 2014

Vagaries of nature

Apologies for the delay in answering your comments to my last posting - we have just had a manic two weeks. The rep we hired for our Cape Town based business has inundated us with enquiries - and in particular one very large order.  It is the type of order where you can't say "Ooops - I left something out of your quote, so I am adding it on at the end" and we had to give it our undivided attention, checking and re-checking, and re-checking again. Thankfully, the quote is now finalised, and has been submitted, and now we wait to hear the outcome...

In the meantime, I need help.

Please, can anyone help me identify this tree? 
Our unknown tree is currently
3 - 3.5 mtrs tall
It is a relatively fast growing, evergreen tree...
This is a close up of the pinnate leaves
... with pinnate leaves.
The fruit hanging on the tree - not many,
but intriguing
For the first time this year I noticed that it had a few fruit on it (duh - I couldn't miss them, could I - especially when they turned red LOL)
Yes, the one on the right has had a little Dani nibble
taken out it  The taste is sweet-ish although a
little tart.  But quite pleasant.
Curiosity killed the cat,and it may certainly do the same to me.  I had to taste it.  Against RMan's advice.

The taste was quite pleasant - sweet, but tart.  There is roughly 2 - 3 mm of flesh and it has quite a large "hairy" pip inside.

I'd love to know what it is and are the fruit edible - hopefully someone out "there" can help...?  It would be wonderful if they are edible, as, in addition to our pomegranate, peach, plum, pear and apple trees, they can provide us with an alternative source of fruit. :) 

Then, secondly, I read about a tree - a Paulowina - in a magazine article a few years ago.  It was a tree of which I had never heard before, and my curiosity was piqued, especially after some googling where I discovered that it triples in size every year - reaching (harvestable) maturity in 15 years (if required).   Being short of shade here, it seemed worthwhile trying to grow.  And a few saplings were on offer.  The only problem was that they were on offer in Pretoria - roughly 1600kms from where we lived.  But, persistence pays, they say, and the seller managed, on a trip  down to the coast for a holiday a few months later, to bring me three saplings.
The first signs of leaf growth this Spring
They were planted in the ground, and placed on our irrigation line.  Sadly, we lost one of them (it got chewed by a dog), but the other two have weathered the first two years of heat and wind and are doing well - not quite tripping in height every year, but certainly sprouting higher and more quickly than the other trees in our garden.

But, at the end of last summer I noticed for the first time that there were flower "pods" on only one of the branches.  They did absolutely nothing, so I reckoned that they had developed too late and the winter cold and frost had killed them.
A couple of the "pods" have
suddenly burst into flower
Ha!  Exactly how much do I think I know?

In the last 10 days those "dead" pods have started to bloom.
The flower is orchid like in appearance, with
"tracks" running down the inside as though
to guide the bees to the stamens
A truly spectacular orchid-like blossom with the most wonderful perfume.  I can imagine that when the tree is more mature, and bearing many pods which burst into flower, the scent will be wonderful.  Apparently, trees can be grown from the seeds they produce - not easily, but it is possible.  I love a challenge :)
These young leaves are already bigger than my hand
- and they only emerged last week.
The leaves - well, they grow to about the size of a bread plate and they seem to be handling our wind OK.

Happy days :)


  1. At first glance of your unknown tree I wanted to say macadamia (leaves very similar), but the fruit ain't right... A look-see into macadamia look-alikes gives you; Wild Plum, Harpephyllum caffrum ... ?
    http://waynesword.palomar.edu/ecoph43.htm and
    http://www.plantzafrica.com/planthij/harpephylcaf.htm - not sure about the flowers?

    Don't know why its called a plum, according to its taxonomy it should be a mango - LOL!

    Hope that helps! Always fun to find wild edibles! ;)

    1. Shroom - Thanks for the links - I'll check them out when I'm online tomorrow :)

  2. I would have said those were guavas, but I don't know if they even have guava trees in South Africa. In the U.S. they only grow in hot, humid places like Louisiana and Florida. I usually try out food I'm not sure of on my chickens before I eat it. If the chickens will eat it, it may be nasty but it's not poisonous.

    1. Harry - Nope, definitely not guava's. We do grow guava's in South Africa, but more in Kwa-Zulu Natal on the east coast.

  3. Blogging just solved a plant mystery for me, Dani, so I hope you'll have the same luck! What a pretty flower and elaborate leaves that tree is producing. You're in for lots of enjoyment there, and I bet you'll manage to grow some from seed :)

    1. Quinn - I think Shroom is right - it could be a wild plum :)

  4. harpephyllum-caffrum

    Dani, check out http://witkoppenwildflower.co.za/harpephyllum-caffrum/

    I think this is yours.

    1. RD - Thanks - between you and Shroom I'm convinced :)

  5. yes. They are tiny wild mangoes. And they grow into BIG really big, trees. We brought a seedling from Camps Bay to Porterville and in these 8 years it has become a stately tree.

    1. Diana - Thanks - I think... Sob, it sounds like I'll have to move either this tree, or, probably the smaller lemon trees which are growing nearby.

      We only have the one tree, so who knows how it fertilized itself???


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