Tree of the week: Apodytes dimidiata – White pear – Witpeer – Umdakane

The white pear is an evergreen tree perfectly suited for coastal and windy environments. It can grow up to 25m tall with an open spreading crown.  Its distribution stretches from Ethiopia in the North to Western Cape in the South. It is a protected tree of South Africa and is found in a variety of habitats ranging from montane forests to wooded grasslands.

The glossy dark green leaves of Apodytes dimidiata are simple and alternate. The trunk is pale grey or whitish and rather smooth with large grey, brown or orange patches, usually with horizontal markings. This pale grey trunk adds on to the beauty of the tree. The fragrance from the sweetly scented blooms produced from September to April is reminiscent of fresh coconut. Various bird species visit the tree to enjoy the red fleshy fruits from December to June.

The White pear thrives in well-drained, compost-rich soil. This tree can grow well both in full sun and under semi-shade conditions. It is frost tolerant however, young trees can be affected by frost hence they need protection.

Apodytes dimidiata makes a beautiful screening plant that can be planted as a hedge. When planted as a specimen tree it will look stunning especially when in flower or fruiting. The White pear also does well when grown in a pot. Its root system is non-invasive making it very suitable for small gardens, paved areas or pools.