Schotia latifolia

Schotia latifolia

Observation - Schotia latifolia - Southern Africa. Description: From


The attractive pink blooms of the forest boer-bean are probably its most distinctive feature, unlike its close relatives, the weeping boer-bean (Schotia brachypetala), the dwarf boer-been (S. capitata) and the Karoo boer-bean (S. afra) which usually have scarlet flowers. The pale pink flowers are borne in clusters on the ends of stems. Flower colour can be variable, from flesh-coloured to whitish. Unlike S. brachypetala, the petals are well formed and not very narrow or reduced to thin filaments. The flowers appear in October and November. The pods are broad, flat, brown and woody when mature. As with the other boer-bean species, the pods peel away from their outer edges, leaving these narrow rims with the seeds attached hanging on the tree. The seeds are light brown with a yellow attachment called an aril. When not in flower it may be confused with S. brachypetala but this tree usually has more leaflets (4-7 pairs) per leaf.

Schotia latifolia is a tree which grows up to 3 m high where the habitat is dry and scrubby but may reach 15 m when growing in more moist areas. The crown is rounded in shape unless growing in a forest habitat where the tree will be taller and more slender, the crown shaped according to the forest canopy. In Mpumalanga it is usually found on mountain slopes. The bark is usually smooth and reddish brown to grey. The leaves are compound, dark green and have a rather leathery texture. The leaflets are elliptic and asymmetrical; the 3-5 pairs of leaflets are arranged opposite one another although the actual leaf arrangement is alternate.

Schotia latifolia grows in forests and forest margins, scrub and bushveld. The main centre of distribution is in the Eastern Cape.

Birds are attracted by the nectar, although it is not as copious as the weeping boer-bean, which derives its common name from the fact that the nectar literally drips from the tree! The flowers also attract insects such as wasps, ants, beetles and flies, which in turn attract birds and reptiles.

The seeds are edible and have been used for food historically by both indigenous African peoples and the European settlers and farmers. The pods were picked green and then roasted. The seeds would have effectively been steamed inside the pods. These were removed and eaten. The tough white wood has been used to make strong fence posts although it is not an economically important timber. The bark has been used as a dye which produces a greenish colour. It has also been recorded as being used as a tanning agent for leather. The bush boer-bean has been used successfully as a bonsai subject.