Grewia hexamita Burret
Common names: giant raisin (Eng.); reuserosyntjie, blinkblaarrosyntjie (Afr.); umsiphane (Swazi); nsihana, guguna, nsihani, sipane (Tsonga); mukunukunu (Venda); umlalampunzi, imdliwampunzi (Zulu)
SA Tree No: 460
The glossy dark green leafed Grewia hexamita has beautiful large, yellow, honey-scented flowers. It is a frost-resistant, hardy shrub or small tree that is adaptable to all soils, from clay to sand, and does not require much water.
Grewia hexamita is a large, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree, 5 m high. It has a rough, dark grey bark. The branches are reddish brown, with conspicuous lenticels, and are covered in reddish hairs when young. The leaves are alternate and elliptic to oblong-elliptic, 30-100 x 25-60 mm, with a rounded or tapering apex. They are 3-veined from the asymmetrically lobed base, leathery, dark glossy green above and paler below, and the margins are serrated. The leaf stalk is about 3-6 mm long.
The flowers are golden yellow, large, about 50 mm in diameter and there are 2 or 3 per stalk. The buds are velvety and reddish. The flowers are honey-scented and arranged in axillary clusters at the end of branches. The flowering time is September-December.
The fruits are large, round and shiny, reddish brown drupes, entire to deeply 2-lobed, up to 20 mm in diameter.
According to Raimondo et al. (2009), Grewia hexamita was of Least Concern (LC), when it was evaluated against the five IUCN criteria and does therefore not qualify for the categories Critically Endangered, Endangered, Vulnerable or Near Threatened.
Distribution and habitat
Grewia hexamita occurs naturally in open grasslands and in sparse, dry woodlands. It is found in KwaZulu-Natal, the lowveld and northwards to Tanzania.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Grewia was named after Nehemiah Grew (1641-1712), an English physician. The specific name hexamita refers to six threads, but the meaning is obscure. Grewia hexamita is sometimes mistaken for G . monticola, the leaves of which are much paler, the fruit much smaller, and the veins woolly and without long hairs.
The giant raisin's lovely scented flowers attract butterflies and birds. Wild animals such as warthogs, antelopes and baboons, as well as birds, eat the fruits. The seeds that have passed through the stomach of these animals germinate rapidly, presumably due to the stomach acids that help to dissolve the tough seed coat.
This Grewia has heartwood like ebony. The leaves are browsed by game and livestock. The fruits are edible, but not very popular. This species makes a good screen for the garden, being very attractive with its shiny green leaves and large, handsome, golden yellow flowers. It could form an essential part of bush clumps or a bird garden. Other species which are cultivated in gardens include Grewia occidentalis and Grewia lasiocarpa.
Growing Grewia hexamita
Grewia hexamita can be grown from seeds, but germination is unpredictable. For best results collect seeds from warthog and baboon droppings. Such seeds germinate better, as mentioned above. These trees grow best in temperate climates with summer rainfall. They do not require much water and are frost-hardy. The initial growth of Grewia hexamita is 1 m or more in height per year. Thereafter it grows more slowly as the plant thickens out. Normally it will start bearing flowers and fruits when about two or three years old.
- Boon, R. 2010. Pooley's Trees of eastern South Africa: A complete guide, edn 2. Flora & Fauna Publication Trust, Durban.
- Coates Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of southern Africa, edn 3. Struik, Cape Town.
- Johnson, D. & Johnson, S. 2002. Gardening with indigenous trees. Struik, Cape Town.
- Raimondo, D., Von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. & Manyama, P.A. (eds). 2009. Red List of South African Plants 2009. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
- Schmidt, E., Lötter, M. & McCleland, W. 2002. Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Jacana, Johannesburg.
- Van Wyk, A.E. & Van Wyk, P. 1997. Field guide to trees of southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.
- [Author: place before previous reference]Van Wyk, A.E., Van den Berg, E., Coates Palgrave, M., Jordaan, M. 2011. Dictionary of names for southern African trees: Scientific names of indigenous trees, shrubs and climbers with common names from 30 languages , edn 1. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
- Van Wyk, P. & Van Wyk, B-E. 2000. Photographic guide to trees of southern Africa. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
National Herbarium, Pretoria
Plant Type: Shrub, Tree
SA Distribution: KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga
Soil type: Sandy, Clay
Flowering season: Early Summer
Flower colour: Yellow
Aspect: Full Sun