Tree of the week: Anthocleista grandiflora – Forest-fever tree – Boskoorsboom – Mophala

Anthocleista grandiflora is an evergreen striking tree with a tall straight trunk topped with a crown of huge leaves. This medium to tall tree can reach a mature height of 5 to 35m and is characterised with slender, straight, smooth, light grey or brown trunk, branching high up the trunk. Anthocleista grandiflora is the only species found in southern Africa. This species is called fever tree on account of it being used to treat malaria.

Leaves of this tree are borne at the tips of branches, simple, opposite with one pair at angles to the next. The tree flowers from September to January and the inflorescences are borne at the tips of branches. The creamy-white flowers are very fragrant and turn yellow then brown with age. After flowering, glossy dark green oval-shaped fruits are produced. These turn brown when they mature.

The Forest fever tree is mainly planted for shade. It is fast growing and the dense crown formed by the large leaves can provide a nice shade. Although this is a very large tree, its root system is not aggressive. It can be used to create a tropical feel in the garden especially when planted next to a pool. Anthocleista grandiflora is only suitable for planting in frost free areas, it is water loving hence a worthwhile tree to plant along streams. The Forest fever tree attracts a myriad of insects when in flower, these in turn bring insect-eating birds to the garden. This tree is also ideal for fodder, cattle eat the leaves that drop to the ground.