Allophylus dregeanus (Sond.) De Winter
Common names: forest false currant, simple-leaved false currant, forest bastard currant (Eng.); bosbastertaaibos, enkelblaarvalstaaibos, enkelblaarbastertaaibos (Afr.); umntathasane, umntathazane (Zulu); uthabathani, ilitiye, umcandathambo, uthabathani (Xhosa)
SA Tree No: 424
Allophylus dregeanus, found in the evergreen forest, will greet you with its sweetly scented flowers, surrounded by beautiful butterflies.
Allophylus dregeanus is either a shrub or a tree up to 6 m tall; stems are straight with a grey bark and a diameter of 30 cm. Leaves are simple (this is the only member of the genus Allophylus in South Africa with unifoliolate leaves), dark green above, pale beneath with serrated, wavy margins; the netveining of the leaves is conspicuous. The petiole (leaf stalk) is up to 25 mm long and somewhat hairy.
Small, white flowers are sweetly scented and found on spike-like racemes from February to May. The fruit is red and fleshy and appears March to September.
Allophylus dregeanus is considered not to be a threatened plant.
Distribution and habitat
Allophylus dregeanus, an endemic in South Africa, grows in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, in forest undergrowth and on forest margins, up to an altitude of 1 500 m.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The word allophylus derives from the Greek words allos and phylon which mean different and tribe respectively. The specific epithet dregeanus derives from Johann Franz (Jean François) Drège, a famous German collector (1794-1881). He collected about 200 000 specimens of South African plants (comprising about 8000 species) between 1826 and 1834.
The Allophylus species in southern Africa are food plants for larvae of the butterfly Pearl Charaxes (Charaxes varanes). The Pearl Emperor, as this butterfly is also called, has orange and pearly white wings. See if you can spot them in the Lowveld Botanical Garden and the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden! The red fruit is eaten by birds.
Growing Allophylus dregeanus
Allophylus dregeanus prefers moist, warm climates with a moderate to good rainfall. Use seed to propagate the species. Sow seeds all year round. Position seed about 5 to 10 mm deep in fertile well-drained soil with adequate compost. Seed takes about 3-6 weeks to germinate. Keep seedlings constantly moist but not wet. Plant seedlings in a shady place in the garden.Plant growth is about 50 cm per year.
Spider mites are a known pest but can be controlled by the appropriate pesticides. Allophylus dregeanus will survive an average winter drought and slight frost.
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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
Plant Type: Shrub, Tree
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal
Flowering season: Early Summer, Late Summer
Flower colour: White
Gardening skill: Average