Dombeya tiliacea

  • Forest Wild Pear (E)
  • Forest Dombeya (E)
  • Heart-leaf Dombeya (E)
  • Hydrangea Tree (E)
  • Wedding Bells (E)
  • Cape Wedding Flower (E)
  • Cape Wedding Bells (E)
  • Natal Cherry (E)
  • Bosdrolpeer (A)
  • uTyibo (X)
  • iBunda (Z)


  • A multi-stemmed, dense, scrambling shrub or small tree, with a hardy nature, beautiful, dark-green, round to almost heart-shaped, thinly textured leaves and a stem of rough, fissured, dark-brown bark. In late summer, the tree produces clusters of elegant, pure-white, pink centred flowers that have a delicate, sweet scent, and are highly attractive to bees, butterflies and a host of other insect life. The tree is a truly magnificent sight to behold when it becomes wreathed in a cloud of pure white in late spring and is sure to add life and vibrancy to any landscape.

SA Tree

  • 472


  • Malvaceae -formerly Sterculiaceae (The Hibiscus or Mallow family)
  • A family of flowering plants, belonging the order Malvales, with about 243 genera and somewhat 4200 species of trees, shrubs and herbs.
  • Members can be found worldwide, with the exception of the very cold and arctic regions but are most common in the tropics.
  • Many members are of significant economic importance, such as the cotton, okra and cacao.
  • Genera belonging to this family include the Hibiscus, Sterculia, Dombeya, Pavonia and Sida.
  • Genera now included in Malvaceae were long thought to be very closely related, but, until DNA studies were done they were placed in different families.
  • The circumscription of the Malvaceae is still very controversial and it must be pointed out that the relationships between these subfamilies are still either ill supported or almost completely ambiguous.
  • The circumscription of the family may change dramatically as new studies are carried out.


  • Found in evergreen or deciduous forests and their margins, also in mixed scrub on hillsides and wooded grassland areas in Natal and parts of the Transkei, as well as the Eastern Cape, from sea-level to elevations of about 1500 m.


  • Brown to dark-brown, rough and fissured.

  • Branchlets are often covered with pale, raised dots, and the trunk is sometimes multi-branched, but most often single, with a diameter of up to 300 mm.


  • Deciduous

  • Simple, alternately arranged, rather small, (35 -100 x 20-30 mm), somewhat triangular to almost heart-shaped leaves, carried on side branchlets.
  • The leaves have a thin, slightly leathery texture, and are often shallowly 3-lobed.
  • Above, the leaves are an even, dark-green, with sparse but rather roughish hairs, becoming smoother with age.
  • The undersides are paler green, and are covered with a layer of soft, short, downy hairs.
  • The leaves are typically 3-7 veined from the base, with each vein running to the point of a tooth in the finely scalloped or sometimes roughly serrated margin.
  • The leaf tips are tapered, and the bases are often lobed.
  • The leaves are carried on a slender, tomentose petiole (20-65 mm).


  • Large, (30-50 mm diameter), pure-white flowers, often with a bright pink centre.
  • The flowers are carried in erect, few-flowered clusters in the axils of the leaves and are crowded near the ends of branches.
  • They have a very faint sweet smell. (April-July)


  • A small, round capsule (80x50mm), covered with soft, pale-brown, rust coloured hairs.

  • The fruits develop in the remains of the old flowers, and are surrounded by the old, papery brown, dried out petals. (October-June).


  • 2-5 m, occasionally reaching 10 m.


  • 2-4.5 m


  • The flowers are highly attractive to insects, butterflies and bees, and these will in turn lure many insectivorous bird species to the garden.


  • The trees are an excellent choice for the smaller garden, or any area where space is a limited, as they do not become overly large.
  • They also make fine container specimens, and as they are tolerant of semi-shady conditions, they are suited for patio planting.
  • Planted in groups, they make a beautiful formal or informal hedge.
  • As they tolerate poor soil conditions, and do not mind the occasional dry spell, they can be planted along street avenues.
  • They are generally neat, low-maintenance and hardy.
  • Their decorative, long-lasting flowers and foliage make them good candidates for focal, accent or single specimen plants.


  • The trees naturally thrive in warm areas that experience regular rains, but established trees can endure the occasional drought.
  • Young trees should be watered on a regular basis for the first 3-4 years to help them become established enough to endure dry spells.
  • In the hot summer months extra water can be given if needed.
  • The trees are not frost resistant, and generally do not do well in areas where severe frosts are experienced.
  • However, if they are given protection while they are still young, and planted in a sheltered position, e.g., against a north-facing wall, they will be able to stand fairly cold winters.

Growth Rate

  • Average to fast, depending on the environment.


  • Full sun or partial shade. The trees need a minimum of 6 hours direct sunlight per day.

Soil & Water

  • The trees grow best in a well-drained, peaty (humus and nutrient rich) or loamy soil, with a mildly acidic to mildly alkaline composition.
  • They will however tolerate a wide range of soil types, including sandy soils, but growth may be stunted in overly clay soils.
  • A slow-release fertiliser can be added to the soil in spring.
  • They have average water needs, but during hot summer months extra water is desired.
  • In the winter months, the watering should be somewhat limited, but the root ball should not be allowed to completely dry out.
  • With most of these trees, a longer dry period is better tolerated than waterlogging.


  • Propagated from seed or semi-hardwood cuttings.
  • Seeds should be collected from the flowers after they have been allowed to sufficiently dry out and mature.
  • Soak the small seeds in hot water for at least 24 hours prior to sowing.
  • Sow the seeds in spring, in a well-drained mixture of fine river sand and compost (2:1).
  • Place the seedling trays in a temperate, semi-shady area and keep the soil moist.
  • The seeds germinate well, and seedlings can usually be transplanted into individual containers during the same season.