Tree of the week: Pappea capensis – Jacket plum – Doppruim – Tshikavhavhe

Pappea capensis is a semi-deciduous small to medium sized tree widely distributed in South Africa from the Northern Cape through the drier Karoo, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. It is the only species in the Pappea family. This tree is found naturally growing in Savanna grasslands as well as on rocky outcrops and has a moderate to slow growth rate.

The leaves of the jacket plum are simple, oblong and rough textured. In Spring, new pink bronze leaves appear blending well with the dark green old leaves making the jacket plum an attractive display in the garden. Pappea capensis also produces scented flowers which attract insects and birds to the garden from September to March. These are followed by round green velvety capsules which split open to reveal bright red very juicy fruits with a tart flavour.

It is suitable as a street tree or for shade in parking lots because of its non- aggressive root system and frost tolerance. This tree is also well suited as part of a mixed screen or wind barrier or as part of a natural bush cluster in a wildlife-friendly garden or in large landscapes like parks and golf courses. P. capensis is also medicinal. Leaves, bark and the oil extracted from the seed are used to treat ringworm, nosebleeds, chest complaints, eye infections, and venereal disease.