Tree Feature: Combretum erythrophyllum (Burch.) Sond.

Combretum erythrophyllum (Burch.) Sond. (River bush-willow)


If you’re looking for a tree species that is fast growing, medium sized and beautiful to look at, look no further! The River bush-willow is a landscape architect’s dream species which is why it can be found in many projects around South Africa. We’ve personally provided more than a few of these deciduous beauts to projects and we’re more than happy to shine the spotlight on this species.

The River bush-willow is a medium to large tree that can reach 4-6 m in just three years! It bares creamy flowers, sweet scented fruit and 4-winged seeds. With regard to the different ways in which it benefits bird and insect life, you’ll find that wasps lay their eggs in the walls of the fruit. In turn, the larvae feed on the seeds inside the fruit. The southern black tit taps the fruit to check if there are larvae inside, when discovered they open the fruit and eat the larvae. As a means of use, the tree’s gum is non-toxic, and elastic which is used as a non-cracking varnish.

The species is a popular shade and ornamental tree most commonly found in the northeastern part of South Africa. True to its name, the River bush-willow is a riverine species, occurring alongside rivers or away from rivers where sufficient groundwater is available. However, it is found at almost all altitudes and can therefore tolerate a fair amount of climatic variation and diverse soils.

The River bush-willow is attractive to landscape  due to its adaptability, drought and frost resistance as well as the gorgeous, reddish hue that it takes on in autumn months.

It grows easily from fresh, unparasitised seed which should be soaked for some hours before planting. Seedlings appear 7-13 days after planting. As an added bonus, the river bushwillow has made adaptations that include a hydrophilic root system, thick bark to resist forest fires and leaf drop during dry periods to conserve energy and water.

Do you have any projects in the pipeline that would fit the river bush-willow perfectly? Let us know in the comment section down below!



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