Tree of the week: Searsia pendulina – White karee – Witkaree – Mosilabele

Well known for its fast growth rate, Searsia pendulina is semi-deciduous to evergreen tree with a mature height of up to 10m. It has an open crown with drooping branches and a willowy appearance. Although it is a popular tree in urban gardens, the White karee has a short lifespan of about 20 to 30 years depending on location, care and exposure of the tree to the environmental conditions. This tree is found growing naturally on the banks of rivers and vleis in a narrow strip that follows the Orange River from the Free State through the Northern Cape to southern Namibia.

The bark of this light grey brown on young branches and stems becoming grey-brown, rough and scaly as the tree matures. The narrow lance-shaped leaves are compound with 3 leaflets. Inconspicuous green flowers are produced during spring to summer, these  attract bees and other insects to the tree. From December to May, small green berries form, turning red when ripe and drying to black in autumn. The fruit lures birds to the garden.

Searsia pendulina’s non-invasive root system makes it a suitable tree for planting on streets and parking areas. It also makes a good screening plant in a shrubbery. This low maintenance tree is tolerant to drought and frost.

Information sourced from Sun Gardens