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Kiggelaria africana

Family: Flacourtiaceae (Kei-apple family)

Common names: Wild Peach (E); uMunwe (Z); Wildeperske (A); Monpenepe (NS); Lekgatsi (SS); umKokoko (X);

Native to: Southern Africa
Tree

Kiggelaria africana

EVERGREEN

FULL SUN

FROST HARDY

MEDIUM WATER REQUIREMENTS

MEDIUM GROWER

FAST GROWER

ATTRACTS BIRDS

ATTRACTS INSECTS

FLOWER COLOUR:

AVERAGE SIZE:

6m x 5m

MAXIMUM SIZE:

13m x 13m
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

Kiggelaria africana

DESCRIPTION

A well-shaped, dense and low-branching tree with a smooth, grey bark that roughens with age. The leaves are glossy green above and grey-green and hairy below. Tiny bell-shaped, yellow-green flowers born in clusters. Male and female flowers are on separate trees. Fruit is a small grey-green capsule that splits open in a star shape to reveal seeds with a bright orange coating.

WILDLIFE & ECOLOGICAL BENEFITS
This is a host plant for the caterpillars of the Acrea horta butterfly. Diederik and Redchested Cuckoos feast on these caterpillars, keeping the numbers under control.
WATER REQUIREMENTS
Water moderately throughout the year.
MAINTENANCE
Low maintenance.
LANDSCAPING USES
Suitable for medium-large wildlife-friendly gardens.
GARDEN THEMES
Bushveld, Country, Forest, Formal, Woodland
FOLIAGE
The leaves of young plants have a serrated margin. They are mid green on both sides and hairless.
The leaves on mature trees are glossy green above and grey-green and often covered in fine hairs below.
BARK
FRUIT
BUTTERFLY/MOTH HOST PLANT
Acraea horta
PESTS & DISEASES
In mid-summer, it is a host plant to caterpillars which may strip it bare. No treatment is necessary.

38 Responses

  1. Hi Shane

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    That’s quite an undertaking.

    The fruit of Kiggelaria africana has very little flesh. While it is relished by birds, it’s not edible for humans.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  2. Good day
    I am currently germinating several types of indigenous tree seeds. I have also bought several of the same trees in various stages. The purpose is to grow indigenous tree bearing fruit trees to sell. Fruit that may be eaten by birds, animals and humans. I would like to sell the saplings once the plants are about 12 months old. The only tree which I am not to sure if the fruit is edible is the wild peach. I know the others are. I am in East London and was told by a nursery in Johannesburg that the fruit from a Wild Peach is edible. Would you agree that the fruit is edible by humans?

    Thanking you in advance for your assistance.

    Regards Shane Annesley

  3. Hi Charles

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The seeds of Kiggelaria africana are toxic but I’m not sure whether your dog will be able to get hold of sufficient quantities to cause any issues as the birds are likely to get to them before they fall to the ground.

    As a precaution, you could perhaps cordon off the area under the tree for the duration of the fruiting season.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  4. Hi,

    Just a quick one – is the Pod and seeds of the tree poisonous to dogs? We have a puppy running around the yard eating everything it can get it’s paws on and we just want to be safe.

    Thanks!

  5. Hi Danel

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Damage from a weed eater is obvious scaring at the base of the tree. To avoid this, plant a low-growing groundcover like Plectranthus neochilus around the base which will also help with taking up excess water around the root ball.

    The condition could also be caused by poor soil drainage. Check that the soil is not too damp as this can cause the roots to rot and may even cause damaging fungal growth in the soil.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  6. Hi,
    Our one Wild Peach suddenly looks wilt… can it be due to wheateater damaging the bark? It is still a young tree. It was doing great for 6 months and this week suddenly started looking sick after heavy rain. We planted 2, the other one is fine, no damage to its bark.

  7. Hi Corinne

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The caterpillars don’t cause any itching so your little one should be fine if he/she does handle them. As the caterpillars contain traces of cyanide, you’ll need to supervise your toddler to make sure they don’t ingest any.

    Unfortunately I don’t know of any way of getting rid of the caterpillars.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  8. Hi
    Our wild peach (Johannesburg north) gets stripped by caterpillars every year (sometimes even twice a year? Right now it is full of larvae) and then we end up with a bare tree and all the caterpillars in our lawn and walls. I have a newborn soon to crawl around and I am wondering if they are poisonous? They look like they‘ll definitely itch?!
    What can I do to get rid of them without getting rid of the tree?
    Thank you so much!

  9. Hi Karin

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The seeds of Kiggerlaria do not require scarification and soaking in water overnight will produce successful germination.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  10. If it is recommended to scarify seeds before planting will soaking them over night suffice – I have hundreds to germinate…

  11. Hi Geneviève

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Hügelkultur is very interesting and well worth the effort in getting established. I don’t think the branches of Kiggelaria africana will be an issue.

    All the best with your project.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  12. Hi there,

    Would I need to be concerned about using clippings of this tree (branches and leaves) as a part of the base mulch for my raised vegetable beds? I’m doing a form of hugulkultur. It’s unclear whether the amount of cyanide could cause harm and poison the soil?

    Looking forward to hearing from you.

  13. Hi Jay

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Sadly, not everyone is enthralled with the butterfly phenomenon that is synonymous with a Kiggelaria africana.

    Yes, the peak of the butterfly season does result in a leafless tree and worms and pupae on the walls. But this is one of the incredible wonders of South Africa’s wildlife and occurs only over a relatively short period of the year without any long-term damage.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  14. We have several Kiggelaria Africana trees in our garden in Hermanus. The trees are stripped bare by the caterpillars each year. Furthermore, the caterpillars climb up our house walls for its metamorphosis to Acraea horta butterflies. Our house walls are covered by worms and pups. We thought it may just be 1 year of overpopulation but this happens year after year. Do you have any advice to avoid the stripped down trees and messy walls? The only solution we can come up with is to remove the trees or apply an insecticide.

  15. Hi Elizabeth

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    You could consider the following:
    – Hypoestes aristata (Ribbon bush)
    – Barleria obtusa (Bush violet)
    – Dietes grandiflora (Wild iris)
    – Strelitiza reginae (Crane flower)

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  16. Hi Jaco

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The birds visiting Kiggelaria africana for fruit (eg. Bulbuls, Cape robin-chat) tend to be very discrete, so you may just be missing them. When the female trees bear fruit, the birds tend to get to the tree at dawn and finish their fruit breakfast within the first few hours of the day.

    The caterpillars are only eaten by cuckoos. As these are migratory birds, you’ll only have them in your garden in the summer months. Again, the cuckoos are fairly illusive.
    The flowers will certainly attract African honey bees. As the worker bees are early risers, you’ll see them on the flowers in the early hours of the day.

    Hopefully there are several other trees of the species in your vicinity as it takes longer for wildlife to identify a lone species in an area.

    Perhaps consider planting a companion if you have the space, and your patience will soon be rewarded!

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  17. I have a beautiful female Kiggelaria africana in my garden, with a male tree nearby, and it bears lovely fruit, but not a single bird or insect ever visits the tree. I am quite disappointed, as I have planted it to attract birds. At some stage it had quite a lot of caterpillars, but still no birds. So what is wrong? I live in Potchefstroom.

  18. Hi Zelda

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Kiggelaria africana does need a bit more space. However, there are other plants suitable for small gardens that will attract birds. Consider:
    Ochna serrulata (Mickey-Mouse bush)
    Freylinia tropica (Honeybells)
    Diospyros whyteana (Bladdernut)
    – Calpurnia aurea (Wild Laburnum)

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  19. Hi Glenice
    Are there any miniatures available that can be planted in pots yet still produce flowers and fruit and be as fruitful to our feathered friends? Our garden is small as we live in a complex and we try our best to keep it indigenous and comfortable for God’s creation.
    Thank you Zelda

  20. Hi Leon

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    I haven’t heard about the cyanide in Kiggelaria africana causing issues in the undergrowth before, so it is highly likely that it could be root competition along with nutrient and water.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  21. Hi Glenice

    I have a healthy wild peach which is about 9 years old. I’ve noticed that the undergrowth and cycads around it doesn’t seem to flourish. Could it be a nutrient and water problem or could the cyanide in the leaves be tha cause?

  22. Hi Donald

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Prepare your planting hole to twice the width and depth of your planting bag. Back fill the hole with a mixture of compost and topsoil (50:50) to the height of planting bags. Remove the tree from the bags and place into the hole. The soil level at the top of the bag should be level with the ground. Fill the space around the tree with a compost and topsoil (50:50) mix, a handful of organic fertiliser and two handfuls of bonemeal.

    You may need to stake your trees for the first two growing seasons.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  23. I have 4 small trees (kigelaria africana) approx. 500mm. in large black bags. Please post some simple instructions on planting them out. I am in George on a fairly steep (1 in 4) N-facing slope well drained close to an active river system.

  24. Hi Ashleigh

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    The best time to move you tree will be in autumn. Remember to do so in the cooler hours of the day and dig up as much of the root ball as possible.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  25. Hi Glenice,

    We would like to move a Kiggelaria. It is relatively tall but quite immature. It was planted in September 2017. When is the best time to do so?

  26. Hi Jane

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    Both male and female trees attract butterflies which lay the eggs from which the caterpillars emerge. So you’ll get cuckoos feeding on the caterpillars from both the male and female trees.

    The flowers on the male tree are in clusters whereas on the female tree, the flowers are borne singly. You’ll have to look quite closely to see this difference.

    Only the female trees bear fruit which will attract fruit-eating birds.

    Note that the female trees will require a male tree within 1km for pollination and fruit production to occur.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  27. Please can you advise. I believe only the female Kiggelaria attracts the caterpillars & the birds. Is there any way of telling which is which. Flowers? Seeds? Advice would be much appreciated

  28. Hi Ashleigh

    It is fairly normal for some of the older leaves to turn yellow and drop at this time of year.

    What you should look for is signs of new growth – i.e. small new leaves on the tips of the branches. If this isn’t happening now in spring, then you should be concerned and consider the growing conditions of your tree.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  29. Hi Glenice,

    Thank you for the feedback! Could you advise as to what the possible reasons could be for our Kiggelaria’s leave turning yellow and starting to drop? They were planted in August last year and have been great until recently when they have started to yellow.

  30. Hi Ashleigh

    Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    You’ll need at least one male within a 500m radius to have the female trees produce fruit. There is no ratio, but even if your trees don’t produce fruit, you’ll still have the butterflies.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  31. Hi,

    Do we need to have both male and female trees planted?
    If so, is there a ratio required?
    We currently have 1 male and 1 female planted on our property (approximately 1100 m2). We are looking at planting another 5 on the property and verge.

  32. Hi Abe
    Thanks for visiting plantbook.

    You’re quite right, there are some similarities. Apart from the fact that they both have separate sexes on different plants, the flower colour is similar for both species. However, there are some differences as well:-
    – The leaves of Trichilia emetica (Natal Mahogany) are dark, glossy green above whereas those of K. africana (Wild Peach) are not glossy and a lighter green;
    – T. emetica generally is a taller tree (8-20m); with K. africana 4-13m
    _ The fruit capsule of T. emetica is larger (3cm) and splits into 2 valves. K. africana fruit is 2cm and splits into 4 valves.
    Given the difference in natural habitats, I’d assume that K. africana can withstand frost better than T. emetica.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  33. What is the difference between a Natal Mahogany and the kiggelaria africana they look very similar i.e. Leaves and fruit

  34. Thanks for visiting Plantbook.

    You’re in an area where there are many beautiful indigenous trees.

    Check what is naturally found in the surrounding areas and also what is readily available at you local nursery.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  35. hi! I live in Mthatha (eastern cape) and would like to plant a viriety of beautiful trees that could grow tall and big in a very short time. would you please advise in this regard? temperatures here are high sometimes during summer and can be very low during winter and rain can be very scarce sometimes. advise me please!

  36. Hi Jacqui

    Perhaps also consider the Sneezewood (Ptaeroxylon obliquum) which has a narrower-spreading crown that will not interfere with your electric fence.

    Flourish!
    Glenice

  37. Hi there. I am looking for trees for screening.
    And the root system must not be aggressive as this will be planted near a wall that is about 3m high and it has 4 stands of electrical fence. Can u advise if the wild pear is suitable? I also am looking at the tree fushia.
    Look forward to hearing from you .
    Jacqui

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