28
Feb
2010
Dovyalis caffra - kei-apple
Trees and shrubs | Magnoliopsida

Scientific Name – Dovyalis caffra

Synonim – Aberia caffra, Aberia edulis.

Common name(s) – Kei-apple, umkokolo, appelkoosdoring, mahlono, mutunu.

Distribution and Habitat – is indigenous to the southern regions of Africa, including Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and South Africa.

Description – shrub or small tree, dioecious, 3-5 m, rarely to 8 m. Bark grey and smooth, flaking in square patches on larger trees; branches with strong spines to 6 cm long. Leaves in tight clusters on short lateral branchlets; obovate or oblong, 3 -5  x 1.5-2.5 cm; glossy green above, paler below; young leaves sparsely hairy, mature leaves hairless; petiole to 0.5 cm long. Flowers, male flower small, creamy-green, in dense clusters on short lateral shoots; female flowers in sparse clusters of 1-4 on longer stalks. Flowering to Novembre-January. Fruit large, 2.5-5 cm, round, velvety; bright yellow when ripe with a short stalk and short styles that persist; they contain 5-15 seeds. Pollination is by insect.

Growth rate – moderath growth, 60 cm/year. Starts to fruit when at least 3-5 years old.

Tolerances –  is extremely drought resistant and also tolerate salinity, even ocean spray; tolerate -5°C. Cannot tolerate damp sites.

Requirements – prefers well-drained soils, full sun or partial shade.

Management – it responds well to pruning.

Propagation – by seed, but this is not recommended for purposes of fruit production. Viability maintained for every 2 years in hermetic at 5 °C. 24 000 seminte/kg. Germinate within 12-20 days and are easily transplanted. Seeds should be sown immediately in nursery beds. Young plants must be protected for the 1st 2 years.

The plant can be propagated from semisoft cuttings, such techniques assure the fruit quality, and relative thorniness. Vegetative propagation yields fruits about 2 years earlier than seedlings.

Pest and Diseases – larvae of the African leopard butterfly, Phalanta phalanta feed on the leaves.

Garden Partners – the plant exhibits allelopathy, its roots excreting chemicals that discourage the growth of other plants in its vicinity.

Cultivars

Properties and Uses - fruit edible, with a high vitamin C content (80-120 mg/g), potassium (600 mg), and makes an excellent jam.

Widely cultivated for fruits and as a hedge.

Dovyalis caffra can be spaced close together to form an impenetrable hedge around homesteads and garden to keep out animals.

Leaves browsed by antelope.                                                                    

The wood is white, dense and heavy.

Curiosity

Bibliography

Ernst Schmidt, Mervyn Looter, Warren McCleland  – Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park – Jacana Mediam, 2002

Geoff Nichols, David Johnson, Sally Johnson – Down to earth: Gardening with Indigenous Shrubs – Struik Publishers, 2006

Jules Janick, Robert E. Paull – The Encyclopedia of Fruit and Nuts – CABI Publishing, 2007

National Research Council – lost Crops of Africa – National Academy Press, 2008

Steve Woodhall -  Field Guide to Butterflies of South Africa – Struik Publishers, 2005

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