"wilde perske" (Afrikaans)
The wild peach is an evergreen tree occurring over a wide range of habitat - from the Western Cape in the south to Kenya in the north. Its growth habit varies accordingly - from a scrubby bush in the Karoo to over 20 meters in high forest. Its small, yellowy-green flowers are borne from August to January. These are followed by pale-green capsules containing the black seeds with bright orange, oily coats. The seeds are relished by many bird species - rameron pigeons, cinnamon doves, olive woodpeckers, cape robins, boubou shrikes, cape thrushes and white eyes. The leaves are eagerly eaten by the larvae of a number of butterfly species and the larvae in turn make a tasty meal for various birds such as the Klaas and emerald cuckoo (The larvae of the familiar orange and black winged butterfly rely solely on the wild peach for their diet.) Since the leaves contain hydrocyanic acid, neither game nor livestock graze on them.
In the past, the pinkish wood was used for the spokes of wagon wheels. It is used for making rafters, floor boards and furniture. A pink dye is also produced from the wood.
It is said that the Tembu people believe that the tree can attract lightning while the South Sotho make a potion from the tree to protect their kraals.
This hardy tree makes an excellent wind break as well as being a great shade tree. It is fast growing but does not have aggressive roots and it is a must for attracting birds to the garden.