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Trees, Shrubs, Aloes, Grasses and Ground Covers.
Weeping Bride’s Bush
Forest Bride’s Bush
A most pleasing, handsome evergreen shrub or small tree, with about 24 family members distributed across southern Africa, some of them endemic to very small areas. These trees, with their arresting, highly scented, snow-white floral displays, frequent forested habitats, and are usually one of the first trees to be spotted against the dark green jungle backdrop. Pavetta grows in a naturally arching habit, with numerous pale branches that spread out at right angles from the centre of the tree and droop down gracefully. These branches become laden with clusters of compact, pincushion-like inflorescences, each one comprised of many, dainty white flowers with elegantly protruding, ivory stamens. Towards the end of the year, these trees can be seen wreathed in ethereal clouds of pure white blooms, their perfume enticing a variety of pollinators. This is the most common and widespread species of Pavetta.
Rubiaceae (Gardenia and Coffee family)
A large, global family, belonging to the order Rubiales, mainly occurring in warmer, tropical and temperate zones of the world, comprising of somewhat 660 genera and over 11 000 species.
Members are mostly trees, shrubs and herbs, and many are renowned for their exceptionally beautiful and fragrant flowers, while others are prized economically for producing, amongst others, the coffee of commerce, Coffea arabica, from Ethiopia.
Members have leaves that are either opposite or in whorls, with clear ridges on the stems between them, usually bearing distinctive stipules, and entire, unbroken margins.
Flowers are borne singly, or in small, clustered groups, and fruits are typically crowned by the persistent remains of the calyx
A fairly common resident of the subtropical and summer rainfall, eastern parts of the country, from Natal, Transkei, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, warmer parts of the Gauteng highveld and Swaziland.
Its preferred habitat is forests and forest margins, both coastal and inland, but away from these it can be found in dry woodland, on rocky slopes, in riverine thickets, bushveld bush clumps and grassland.
This smallish tree typically grows in a single-stemmed fashion, with many, oppositely growing, right angled branches.
The main stem has a diameter of 150-250 mm. the bark is light greyish-brown, smooth on younger specimens, maturing to a finely grooved and longitudinally cracked texture.
Oppositely arranged, elliptic-lanceolate, rather narrow and elongated (20-110 x 10-20 mm), thinly leathery, membranous leaves.
The leaves are hairless, shiny and dark green above, with paler undersides and 3-6 pairs of lateral veins.
A scattering of darkly coloured, ovoid to dotty bacterial nodules can be seen on the surface of the leaves, and hair-tuft domatia (pits) in the axils of the veins underneath.
The margin is smooth and gradually tapers to the acute leaf tip and wedge-shaped base and the leafstalk is short (2-6 mm).
Masses of almost pure-white, tubular or somewhat cone shaped flowers are borne in compact, much-branched flowerheads (25-60 mm diameter).
These inflorescences are supported by stout and rather short branches (35-70 mm) that are carried at the ends of the main stems.
Each flower has four spreading petal lobes and the calyx lobes are reduced to resemble small, acute tips.
The flower tubes are white, but green tipped when the flower opens for the first time.
The stamens are conspiciuosly elongated and protrude from between the corolla tubes.
They change from greenish-yellow to almost black as the flower matures. Sweetly scented.
November – June.
Numerous pea-like, fleshy, semi-spherical drupes (45-70 mm diameter) are produced in dense bunches and often remain on the tree for extended periods.
They mature from green to black, are tipped with the stubborn remains of the calyx lobes and contain 1-2 hard, roundish seeds.
March – August.
There are reports of the leaves being cooked and eaten as a vegetable in some parts of the country.
The flowers attract a variety of pollinators, from bees, wasps and moths, to flies, beetles, ants and butterflies.
The multitudinous insects lured will attract insect-eating bird species, and the fruits will in turn lure numerous seed and fruit eating birds.
These beautiful and elegant trees make fine specimen or focal plants and also work very well when planted in groups, as they can be trained into an effective windbreak, privacy screen or informal hedge.
If planted in groups, they will make for a stunning and very eye-catching floral display.
Pavetta responds very well to pruning. It has non-invasive roots, and a naturally neat growth habit, making it ideal for large container planting.
It can also safely be planted close to pools, paving, walls and other permanent structures.
Suitable for planting in narrow, confined spaces and small gardens.
These trees produce an abundance of perfumed flowers and many fruits, making them lovely wildlife attracting and decorative specimens.
They can grow quite happily in often difficult coastal gardens as they can tolerate the adverse soil and wind conditions.
These smallish trees are not very frost hardy and can easily be damaged or stunted from excessively cold conditions.
In cold areas they should be planted in the wake of bigger, sheltering trees or against a high, north facing wall.
Young and unestablished specimens should be well sheltered or kept indoors for at least their first 4 seasons.
They have moderate drought tolerance, but only once they are well established.
Young plants should be given a fair amount of water on a regular basis.
First flowering can typically be expected after 3-4 seasons.
Growth may be slow at first, but as the trees establish themselves this usually speeds up.
Full sun or partial shade will be accepted.
Soil & Water
These trees will grow and flower best in a well-drained, nutrient rich peaty or loamy soil.
They will however accept sandy, dry and somewhat clay soils, and can tolerate slightly alkaline soils.
If they are to be planted in clayish soils, water less frequently as these soils are very moisture retentive and have rather poor drainage.
Yong trees need more water.
As the trees mature, they generally require less water, but they will need a generous supply during the warm summer months, and less in winter.
These trees are most often grown from seed but have also been successfully been propagated from cuttings or layering.
Seeds should be sown in spring or early summer.
Place the seeds into seedling trays filled with a well-drained growing medium of washed river sand and compost (2:1), and then cover them with another, thin layer of sand.
Place these trays in a well, lit, partially sunny and temperate area and mist the soil often, but do not let it become too wet.
The seeds can be treated with a pre or post emergence fungicide to prevent damping off.
Once the seedlings have developed a set of true leaves and are big enough to handle safely, they can have transplanted into their new, permanent homes.
Cuttings should be taken from actively growing semi-hardwood cuttings, preferably of the previous seasons growth.
Treat the cuttings with a rooting hormone to encourage the development of healthy roots.
Place these firmly in a well-aerated mixture of preferably milled bark and polystyrene.
Mist the cuttings on a regular basis. but allow them time to dry out between watering’s.
When the roots have established, transplant the cuttings into a well-drained semi-acidic loamy or peaty medium and allow the mini plants time to become settled.
Layering is a propagation technique where a parent plant sends out numerous stems along ground level and these then develop their own independent set of roots, and eventually detaches to become a separate plant.
It is a very natural and quite common means of vegetative propagation.