Tree of the week: Croton sylvaticus – Forest feverberry – Boskoorbessie – Umhloshozane

Croton sylvaticus is a deciduous tree with a dense spreading crown. The tree name ‘Croton’ was derived from the Greek word kroton, a tick, from the appearance of the seeds of these plants; ‘sylvaticus’ means growing in woods, forest-loving. This tree’s distribution stretches from Ethiopia in the north to the Eastern Cape in the south. The tree occurs naturally in forests and evergreen woodlands.

Young branches of this tree are covered in orange hairs and the bark is aromatic. The dark green leaves are simple, alternate and are 3-5 nerved from the base. The Forest feverberry produces cream-coloured flowers borne in spikes 60-210 mm long. Male flowers will be at the top and female flowers at the lower part of the inflorescence. After flowering, soft roundish orange fruits are produced from December to May.

C.sylvaticus makes a beautiful shade tree for the garden or park. The showy orange fruit makes the tree visible from a distance hence it’s a good option as a specimen. It is also an ideal tree for planting along a driveway. Although the root system is not very aggressive, it is not encouraged to plant this tree close to buildings and pools. The fruit provides food for birds and game. The fast-growing Croton sylvaticus is only suitable for warm gardens.

Information sourced from Sun Gardens