Tree of the week: Burchellia bubalina – Wild pomegranate – Wildegranaat – iThobankomo

The Wild pomegranate is a stunning evergreen shrub characterised with glossy dark green foliage. It occurs naturally along the coastal strip of South Africa. Although this tree is slow growing, it starts flowering while still small. It normally reaches a mature height of 2.5m and spread of 1.5m in gardens.

B. bubalina is a neat and attractive ornamental subject for most gardens. The dark green, glossy, leaves are hairless above and paler below. Leaves are soft when young, becoming thickly leathery as they mature. The grey-brown bark is smooth on young branches becoming rough with age.

Burchellia bubalina bears orange coloured flowers which appear mainly during spring and summer. These are followed by green, urn-shaped fruits that are also borne in clusters.  These nectar laden flowers attract birds and bees to the garden, making it an ideal option for wildlife gardens. When the tree is in full bloom, it resembles the true pomegranate, hence the common name, wild pomegranate. After the fruit ripens, it can remain on the tree for many months.

Burchellia bubalina grows and flowers best in full sun, but also thrives in dense shade. It should be protected from very cold winter winds and extreme frost, as this may damage or kill the plant. This tree is suitable for container planting as it has a non-aggressive root system.

Pronunciation: bur-CHEL-lee-a bub-uh-LEE-nuh