Schrebera alata (Hochst.)Welw.
Common names: wild jasmine, wing-leafed wooden pear, (Eng.); wildejasmyn, houtpeer (Afr.); mulungwi (Venda); umGwenye-hlangula (Xhosa); umGwenya-hlungulu, umSishane-wehlanze, umTshwatshwala, loziphungwane (Zulu)
SA Tree No: 612
Wild jasmine anoints your garden with a pleasant, sweet-scented fragrance and glorifies it with white to dark pinkish red flowers during the summer season. The flowers attract a parade of bees, hawkmoths and dusk-flying butterflies.
Schrebera alata is a quick-growing evergreen tree or shrub, 4-15 m high, with a greyish or light brown bark. The leaves are opposite and pinnately compound with few leaflet pairs and a single terminal one. The petiole and rachis are narrowly winged. The leaves are shiny dark green above, paler beneath and smooth or velvety when young. The flowers are trumpet-shaped and white to pink, with reddish brown hairs near the mouth of the corolla tube. They are sweet-scented (the fragrance is stronger in the evening), and arranged in terminal clusters up to 110 mm long. Flowering time is September - May.
The fruits are pear-shaped and shiny green, turning brown in maturity and becoming woody. They split into two halves when ripe and contain about 8 papery, winged seeds. The seeds are dispersed by wind. Fruiting time is March - July.
According to Golding (2002), Schrebera alata is not listed as threatened or endangered.
Distribution and habitat
This sweet-scented, lovely tree occurs on the margins of forest or bushveld of Limpopo, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. It is also found in Swaziland, through southern Mozambique, and north to tropical Africa.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
The genus Schrebera was named after J.D.C. von Schreber (1739-1810), a German botanist; the species name alata refers to the winged leaf rachis.
The wild jasmine's scented flowers attract bees to the garden, while hawkmoths and dusk-flying skipper butterflies are also often seen sipping nectar from the tubular flowers.
Schrebera alata is related to S. trichoclada, which has white to yellow flowers and simple leaves. When not in flower, the wild jasmine's leaves can easily be mistaken for those of Loxostylis alata (tarwood), which has more leaflets to each leaf. It can also be confused with Ekebergia pterophylla, which has alternate leaves.
It is mainly used as a decorative and ornamental garden plant.
Growing Schrebera alata
It is very easy to grow Schrebera alata plants in a garden. Sow seeds in early spring and they will germinate in about four weeks' time. Mix the soil with compost or sieved leaf litter; give plenty of water and maintain a warm temperature. Transfer young plants to individual pots for about a year, before planting them into the ground, and water them regularly. These trees prefer warm environments and young plants must be sheltered to prevent frost damage.
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- Van Wyk, A.E. (Braam) & Van Wyk, P. 1997. Field guide to trees of southern Africa: 418, 419. Struik, Cape Town.
National Herbarium, Pretoria
Plant Type: Shrub, Tree
SA Distribution: Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga
Soil type: Loam
Flowering season: Late Summer
Flower colour: Red, White, Pink
Aspect: Full Sun
Gardening skill: Easy