White Stinkwood Witstinkhout Celtis africana
The White Stinkwood must be one of the best known trees in South Africa. Ask any nurseryman for a fast growing tree for the Gauteng Highveld that is able to withstand frost, and the the answer will be: White Stinkwood. Growing as an individual tree in the open under favourable conditions, Celtis africana is a tree of medium height, typically up to 12 m or so. It then usually forms a dense, hemispherical canopy. The bole of a mature tree then is thick and buttressed, often forked fairly near the ground. In forest it may grow up to 25 m tall, with a single, clean bole, though such large specimens usually are more or less buttressed too.
The tree is deciduous in the drier, frostier interior of its range in Africa, but semi-deciduous nearer the coast; in areas with wetter, milder winters it commonly retains its old leaves till after the spring. The new leaves are bright, fresh green and hairy on the upper surface; they turn darker green and become smoother as they mature. The inconspicuous, small, greenish, star-like flowers appear in early spring (August to October). Male and female flowers are separate, but they are produced on the same tree. Various insects pollinate them such as the honeybee.
One almost feels that the White Stinkwood belongs in the urban landscape because the tree has been planted extensively in gardens, parks, and along streets in towns and cities. The tree is sometimes cursed by gardeners because it sheds all its leaves in autumn and sows itself abundantly in the spring after the first rains. However the White stinkwood is an indigenous African, occurring from Ethiopia to the Western Cape, while being equally at home in town and veld. In Kruger the white stinkwood grows in the veld in the vicinity of Pretoriuskop rest camp only. However there are three White Stinkwoods in the reception area at Berg-en-Dal rest camp.
The characteristic features of the White Stinkwood are its smooth light grey trunk and of course, the beautiful round crown which make it such a popular urban feature. Kudu, nyala, bushbuck, impala and grey duiker browse the young branches and leaves. Fruit eating birds such as grey louries enjoy the berries, as do baboons and monkeys. The name Stinkwood refers to the the somewhat unpleasant smell of freshly sawed wood. Gleaned from the pen of Marissa Greeff in her book A Site-by-Site Guide to Trees in KRUGER NATIONAL PARK. This book is obtainable for sale from us at R260.00 excluding postage. The White Stinkwood tree is obtainable for sale at the Kruger Indigenous Nursery near Skukuza.
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