Tree is up to 12m high. The stiff, rigid Leaves are simple. Bisexual and zygomorphic Flowers have a 2-lipped corolla and occur in cymes. Stamens are didynamous. Fruit is a woody capsule with spindle shaped Seeds.
Anastrabe integerrima, Anastrabe serrulate
RSA Tree No. 671.
Common names: Pambati-tree, Isipambatiboom, Pambatihout.
Family Stilbaceae: (was Scrophulariaceae but moved after molecular studies). There are 12 Genera and 151 Species in this family. Local genera with trees include Anastrabe, Bowkeria, Halleria, and Nuxia. Members of this family have simple and entire Leaves that lack stipules. Non-stellate hairs are present. Flowers are bisexual and zygomorphic and the corolla is funnel-shaped. The Stamens are epipetalous and the superior Ovary has 2 locules each with 1 ovule.
Name derivation: Anastrabe – upwards distorted. This may refer to the anthers. integerrima – completely entire – which probable refers to the leaves.
Conservation Status: L C. (Least Concern). 2009 (Raimondo et al.).
The Tree may reach 12m high but is usually shorter. It may also be a multi stemmed shrub. The Trunk may reach a diameter of 16cm+. Bark is light brown or mottled greyish green. Lengthwise fissures may develop and it may be sparsely warty. There are many flattish, leafy Branches that are initially hairy. They become rounded and smooth.
The stiff, rigid and hard Leaves are simple and opposite or nearly so. Each is slender and up to 11 x 2,5cm. They are oblong, oval, narrowly elliptic to lanceolate. The Apex is bluntly or sharply pointed. The Base is rounded or narrowed. Leaves are a deep shiny green on both sides but lighter silvery white below. The hairy Midrib is raised and conspicuous on the lower surface where the raised lateral veins are distinct (photo 112). The veins become more distinct when examined against a strong light (photo 114). The Margins may be wavy, rolled under or slightly toothed – especially when young. The Petiole (leaf stalk) is up to 8mm long and is covered with a thick felt.
The yellow scented Flowers have some red streaks in the throat. They are bisexual and occur in Cymes (a broad, more or less flat-topped, determinate flower cluster, with central flowers opening first) ether at branch ends or axillary. Each flower is up to 1,5cm long. The hairy Calyx is long and bell shaped with the non overlapping 5 lobes that are as long as the tube. The 2-lipped Corolla is hairy. The upper lip is curved and slightly 3-lobed. The lower lip is partially 2-lobed and inflated forming a pouch. Stamens are didynamous (having 4 stamens disposed in 2 pairs of 2 different lengths). The anterior pair is basally twisted to bring the Anthers to face the front of the flower above the posterior pair. The 2 theca (pollen sacs) are initially divergent but merge at maturity. The 5th stamen is rudimentary. Stamens do not extend beyond the mouth of the petals. The superior Ovary is 2-chambered and has many Ovules. The long, slender Style is persistent and ends in a simple Stigma within the flower (photo 768). (Nov-May).
The woody, ovoid Fruit is a Capsule (a dry fruit resulting from the maturing of a compound ovary which usually opens at maturity by one or more lines of dehiscence). Here the dehiscence line is between the carpels which are surrounded by the persistent Calyx. The capsule is up to 8mm long and splits into 2 Valves to release the spindle-shaped Seeds. The Testa (seed coat) is reticulate (net-like). (Mar-Jul).
Distribution & Ecology
This plant can be found in the Eastern Cape from East London to KwaZulu-Natal. It is also found in Swaziland. It is endemic (Endemism is the ecological state of a species being unique to a defined geographic location) in southern Africa. Plants are often reasonably close to the coast but may occur up to 1 200m in altitude. The plants occur in forests and forest margins, in dry, rocky hillsides (e.g. sandstone) and along streams. These plants flourish in both full sun or semi shade.
This plant has a non-invasive root system and can easily be grown from seeds or cutting. Plant the dry seeds in spring. They may be frost sensitive – especially when young. In gardens the plant may reach 5m high and is an impressive addition to a garden. The plant responds well to pruning. The hard Wood is termite resistant but may warp and split. Local people use it for making spoons.
Boon, R. 2010. Pooley’s Trees of eastern South Africa. Flora and Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.
Coates Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of Southern Africa, edn 3. Struik, Cape Town.
Palmer, E. & Pitman, N. 1972. Trees of southern Africa, Balkema, Amsterdam, Cape Town.
van Wyk, B. & van Wyk, P. 1997 Field guide to Trees of Southern Africa, Struik, Cape Town.