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Dombeya rotundifolia

Family: Sterculiaceae

Common names: Wild Pear (E); iNhliziyonkhulu (Z);

Native to: Southern Africa
Tree
An attractive and hardy small deciduous tree.

Dombeya rotundifolia

DECIDUOUS

FULL SUN

FROST HARDY

MEDIUM WATER REQUIREMENTS

FAST GROWER

FRAGRANT

ATTRACTS BIRDS

ATTRACTS INSECTS

FLOWER COLOUR:

AVERAGE SIZE:

6m x 4m
FLOWERING TIME:
J F M A M J J A S O N D
FRUITING TIME:
J F M A M J J A S O N D

Dombeya rotundifolia

DESCRIPTION

A small, shapely tree with a dark brown, deeply longitudinally furrowed bark. The hairy leaves are broadly ovate to almost circular, strongly 5-veined from the base, upper surface rought and dark green, paler below. The flowers are white (sometimes lightly pink), sweetly scented and appear before the leaves in spring. The fruit is an almost spherical capsule with silky hairs.

WILDLIFE & ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS
The flowers are rich in nectar and attract bees and butterflies.
This tree serves as the larval host plant for nine moth species and one butterfly species.
WATER REQUIREMENTS
Water moderately throughout the year.
MAINTENANCE
Low maintenance.
LANDSCAPING USES
A useful tree for a small garden.
GARDEN THEMES
Bushveld, Grassland, Woodland
FOLIAGE
BARK
BUTTERFLY/MOTH HOST PLANT
Caprona pillaana (Ragged Skipper)
PESTS & DISEASES
Seldom attacked by pests.

20 Responses

  1. Hi Lynette

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The tree may well be Dombeya rotundifolia. Since we’ve had a late winter, it is possible that the tree hasn’t shed its leaves in July.

    You’re welcome to send some photos to [email protected] and we’ll try to assist with the ID.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  2. Dear Glenice, I hope you can help me identify a small tree in the Hoedspruit area in the bushes next to a seasonal stream. The leaves are a close fit to Dombeya rotundifolia, and according to my books, they grow there. The leaves still on the tree now in July, are extremely rough, feeling like sandpaper, top and bottom. Further the bark of the multi-stemmed trees are very smooth light green-grey striped and like marble. They do not have the thick black bark found on the ancient Dombeyas growing on the rocky koppie in my Pretoria garden. Unfortunately, there were no flowers in Hoedspruit to help ID them. I am literally stumped trying to identify those trees. I can send you photos if that will help.

  3. Hi Mic

    Thanks for visiting our site.

    Dombeya does not have male and female on separate trees, so this is not the situation.

    I don’t know what the age of your tree is or where you’re situated as this may have a bearing on the lack of flowers. Here are some other things to consider:-
    – Dombeya rotundifolia grown from seed can take 5-10 years before it begins to flower.
    – Most deciduous trees that flower in spring, like Dombeya rotundifolia, prefer to have a dry winter. If you are running an irrigation system, consider not running the cycle in the zone around your tree from June to August
    – Dombeya prefers a well-drained soil so check your soil condition.
    – Trees will go through some transplant shock when transferred to the ground from a nursery bag. The duration of this varies according to the change in conditions at the new site. Perhaps your tree is still adjusting to its new home.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  4. Hi.

    I have a new Dombeya Rot. I planted about 18 months ago. I was looking forward to the famous flowers last spring but nothing came. Someone told me the Dombeya comes in male and female and only the one flowers. Is this true??

  5. Hi Elsa

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Your tree sounds like it’s displaying signs of distress which sound like over-watering may be a possibility. Dombeya rotundifolia prefers a dry winter to allow it to go dormant. If this doesn’t happen, then the flowering is compromised in spring.

    Please check your watering and reduce the watering in that area if possible. If that doesn’t appear to be the cause, I’d recommend you contact an arborist to inspect your tree.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  6. Good afternoon,
    I have a Dombeya rotundifolia of about 4 – 5 years old and about 6 – 7 metres tall. It was growing very beautiful up until this year. It had hardly any flowers this past flowering season and when the leaves were growing out, it did not even cover half the tree, with many branches just leave-less. And now, only 3 months into summer, the leaves are turning yellow and falling down. I am very worried about my tree and are afraid that I will loose this beauty. Can you please think of any possible reason that this might happen?

  7. Hi Louise

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    I haven’t experienced this and none of the books which I reference has any mention of this. Perhaps there was a carrion plant/kill near the area?

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  8. Hi. Please advise whether the leaves of the dombeya rotundifolia emits a carrion like smell at certain times of the year

  9. Hi Alta

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Dombeya rotundifolia doesn’t have an aggressive root system and will make a fantastic focal tree. Note that the recommended planting distance from any structures is 3m.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  10. Hallo. How aggressive is its root system?
    I live in Bloemfontein & would like to replace the Paper Mulberry growing close to the house with this indigenous species (Dombeya rotundifolia)

  11. Hi Judy

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The fruit of a Dombeya is only 6mm in diameter and hardly causes a mess. And, as far as I know, the fruit is eaten by many birds. With regards to the leaves dropping, this only happens once a year as the tree is deciduous, so it won’t be a continual task all year.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  12. Hi Maritza

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook and for buying my book.

    Dombeya rotundifolia grows best in summer rainfall regions, so you may struggle to find one in your area. However, try the nursery at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden for seed or seedlings.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  13. Hi Glenice
    I came across this tree in your book Indigenous Garden Plants and really want to plant one in my garden. We live in Western Cape fynbos/strandveld region and I was wondering whether it would survive here. Also where do you think I can get a seedling or seed?

  14. Dear Glenice We are moving to a townhouse complex in Riverclub Johannesburg The unit has a large centrally enclosed patio open to the elements with bedrooms, litchen & study leading into the open area which has light floor tiles. (Not grass) with space for two trees. I can’t make up my mind between the two pom pom trees or two dombeya rotoundiflora The pink of the flowering pom pom will look stunning against the white walls but it may not grow tall enough & may not provide enough shade in summer or sun in winter The dombeya produces fruit which may make keeping the atrium tiles clean a mission what with bird poo & rotten fruit dropping to the tiles How difficult would either of these trees be to grow to above gutter height without creating too big a cleaning task during their messy seasons (fruit attracting birds leaves dtopping etc) I accept the beauty of trees in the atrium will come at the price of some extra work but I’d like to minimise it if possible. Thank you for your assistance & the informative website Regards Judy Croome

  15. Hi Disa

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Dombeya is easy to propagate from seed. This is best done in spring – sow in a seedling mix and keep moist.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  16. Hi Dirk

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    I’m not aware of this species attracting cuckoos.

    However, Kiggelaria africana (Wild Peach) definitely does attract cuckoos as they feed on the caterpillars of the Garden acrea butterfly that uses the tree as a host plant.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  17. Hi Pietie

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The Dombeya rotundifolia is a deciduous tree. Rather than loosing its leaves for the whole of winter, it does so towards the end of the cold spell. Shortly after the tree is denuded of foliage, it is covered in magnificent white flowers and one barely notices that no leaves are present. The period that the tree has no foliage is about 6-8 weeks, but will depend on the climate.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

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