Tree of the week: Schotia brachypetala – Weeping boerbean – Molope

A beautiful tree with a wide-spreading, rounded crown.

The Weeping boerbean usually remains evergreen in warmer climates, but may be briefly deciduous (lose some of its foliage in areas with very cold winters). This tree is normally found in warmer areas, occasionally in the Eastern Cape and throughout Natal. This tree is proving to be far more resilient to Gauteng conditions than previously believed.

The bark of the tree is greyish to reddish brown and rough on older branches and stems. Leaves are evenly compound and are coppery when young. When in flower, this tree is a stunning sight and if planted together with the Tree wisteria (Bolusanthus speciosus) with its blue-mauve flowers, it gives a beautiful display. The deep red flowers produce a lot of nectar and this nectar drips from the flowers hence the common name ‘Weeping boerbean’. After flowering, fruits appear on the tree in form of dark brown hard pods.

Schotia brachypetala is a perfect option for game farming. Black rhino eat the bark, and giraffe, kudu, Nyala and Impala eat the leaves. Because of its non-invasive root system, this tree is perfect for planting along the driveway. The bark of S. brachypetala contains tannin and is used for tanning leather. The tree also has medicinal value, powdered leaves are applied on tropical ulcers to speed up the healing process.