The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Wild Plum tree

Afrikaans name: Wildepruim

Wild Plum tree at the picnic site in Vernon Crookes Nature Reserve

Photo © Steven Herbert

Harpephyllum caffrum

The Wild Plum tree is a distinctive and large tree. It can grow to a height of 20 metres or more. Its distribution in South Africa starts in the south just inland from Port Elizabeth and stretches to the Mozambique border. It also occurs inland on the Soutpansberg and Drakensberg mountains.

This is a popular tree amongst various forms of wildlife. Some species of butterfly such as the Common Hairtail lay their eggs on the leaves. The fruit is eaten by Vervet Monkeys, bushbabies, Chacma Baboons and Bushbuck and others. Fruit eating birds such as louries, Green Pigeons and parrots are also attracted to its fruit.

The fruit of the Wild Plum is small and oval in shape. When ripe they are reddish in colour. Although they are sour to eat they are said to make a good jelly and rose wine.

The leaves are a good identifying feature of this tree. They grow in a kind of radial, or whirlpool, fashion.

Leaves of a Wild Plum tree, South Africa

References and further reading

Wild Issue 9 - Author: - Published: 2010 - Page: 13

The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 1994 - Page: 242

The Natal Bushveld - Volume 1 - Author: Natal Parks Board - Published: 1981 - Page: 35

Trees of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Keith Coates Palgrave - Published: 2002 - Page: 540

Pocket Guide - Trees of Southern Africa - Author: Piet van Wyk - Published: 2013 - Page: 76

Sappi Tree Spotting: KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape - 2nd edition - Author: Val Thomas and Rina Grant - Published: 2004 - Page: 188

Indigenous Beginnings - Author: Anneke Kearney - Published: 2008 - Page: 36

Indigenous Garden Plants of Southern Africa - Author: Glenice Ebedes - Published: 2017 - Page: 31

Garden Birds in South Africa - Author: Duncan Butchart - Published: 2017 - Page: 163

A Field Guide to the Trees of Southern Africa - Author: E. Palmer - Published: 1983 - Page: 196

Everyones Guide to Trees of South Africa - Author: Keith, Paul and Meg Coates Palgrave - Published: 1989 - Page: 55


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