Tree of the week: Salix mucronata – Cape willow – Kaapse Wilger – Munengeledzi

Salix mucronata is a tall, semi-deciduous to evergreen tree that has an open crown and slightly drooping branches. It can reach a mature height of 5 m or higher, young trees display smooth, green-red bark that becomes fissured and brown as it matures. This tree originated from Southwest Cape where it is found growing naturally along streams and riverbanks. It can grow in KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and North West.

The leaves are simple and alternate with tapered ends. They are dark green on top and a lighter shade below with serrated or smooth edges. The leaves, fragile in nature, sway in response to even the gentlest of breezes, lending the tree a glistening appearance. Flowers appear as short spikes and male and female flowers develop on separate trees. The male spikes are dense, up to 50 mm in length with yellow colouring, while the greenish female spikes are shorter and thicker.  The fruit is a small, dehiscent capsule and contains seeds that are covered with white hairs. These hairs aid the wind dispersal of the seeds.

This is a fairly fast grower and the tree is hardy, able to withstand frost and drought conditions although it prefers damp conditions. This tree is also ideal for fodder, the leaves are eaten by livestock. Salix mucronata has been reported to have medicinal properties. The roots help to cure stomach pains, headaches, and fever. This willow is a good choice for your water garden, as it will provide cooling shade and attract butterflies and other beneficial insects to your garden.

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Enjoy your gardening week!
The Highveld Tree Fellers