Tree of the week: Searsia leptodictya – Mountain Karee – Bergkaree – Mohlwehlwe

Searsia leptodictya is an indigenous evergreen tree that grows as a large shrub or smallish tree. It generally grows to a height of 3 to 4 m, but has been known to reach 9 m under ideal conditions. It sometimes has arching branches, which may give it character in a garden. This beautiful tree is a good addition to a bird garden as it produces clusters of multi-coloured fruit from March to June.

Just like most Searsia species, the Mountain Karee’s leaves are divided into three leaflets. The thinly textured, bright green, narrow leaves have toothed margins. Although this tree is mostly evergreen in most environments, it loses leaves during winter in colder areas. S. leptodictya produces minute yellowish flowers from December to April, these are carried in sprays. Male and female flowers occur on separate trees.

The Mountain karee is extremely versatile and can be used for screening, windbreaks and to provide shade. It is also a very good pavement tree, as it does not have an aggressive root system. It offers dappled shade which allows other plants to grow happily underneath it. This is a good substitute for the exotic Willow tree.

leptodictya is frost hardy once established, this tree also proves to be drought resistant. It is a good specimen to plant on the Highveld. The hardy Mountain Karee grows well in a sunny position, but will tolerate light shade and will thrive with almost any soil conditions.

Information sourced from Sun Gardens