Midlands Wildflower for September- Dombeya rotundifolia

Common name: wild pear; Zulu name: unhliziyonkhulu; Afrikaans name: blompeer; Sotho name: umbikanyaka

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A sight not to be missed during September is the hillsides of Umgeni Valley Nature Reserve when the Dombeyas are in flower. This small tree with dark brown, craggy bark and a rounded crown is literally covered in white blossom, which is particularly striking as the tree is usually leafless at this time of year. Each flower is about 2cm across and part of a heavy cluster at the ends of branches.

A quick growing and versatile tree, it does best in drier areas and is remarkably hardy to drought, frost and fire. The dark green leaves are heart shaped, and although rough, are popular with game, while porcupines are fond of the bark. Bees love the sweetly scented flowers which contain abundant nectar and pollen and it is also host to the Ragged Skipper butterfly.

dombeya flowers

The wood is heavy and fine textured which makes it ideal for tool handles and bows and the bark is reportedly used for twine. Traditional medicinal remedies include treatment of heart weakness, intestinal ulcerations and palpitations in pregnant women.

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