Tree up to 20m high. Simple, opposite, entire Leaves. White, 4-merous, dioecious, actinomorphic Flowers. The Fruit is a fleshy, edible berry with 1 or 2 round Seeds.
RSA Tree No. 553.4.
Common names: Hairy Myrtle, Hairy Forest Myrtle, Mountain Myrtle.
Family: Myrtaceae (Myrtle and Eucalyptus family) has 130+ genera and 3 000+ species and includes the Australian genus Eucalyptus, guava and clove. These evergreen trees have simple Leaves that are, leathery, usually entire, gland-dotted and usually opposite. Stipules are very small or absent. Flowers are bisexual and regular. The many Stamens are inflexed in the bud and Anthers are 2-thecous (with 2 pollen sacs). They usually open by lengthwise slits. The usually inferior Ovary has a simple single, capitate (formed like a head) Stigma and a single Style. Fruit is a capsule or berry. Local genera include Eugenia, Heteropyxis, Metrosideros (Western Cape) and Syzygium.
Name derivation: Eugenia after Prince Francois Eugene (1663-1736) a French patron of Botany and Horticulture. He was also an exceptional war leader. woodii after a pioneer South African botanist: John Medley Wood (1827-1915) who collected in the KwaZulu-Natal area.
Conservation Status: L C. (Least Concern). Date: 2009.
The small to medium sized Tree may reach 20m high. In the forest, it usually has an upright Trunk that can reach 25cm in diameter. Young growth is initially densely hairy and young stems change from reddish brown to grey and hairless. The rough, corky Bark flakes off in irregular pieces.
The dark green Leaves are slightly glossy above and lighter below. They are simple (have a single blade which may have incisions that are not deep enough to divide the blade into leaflets), opposite and entire (with a continuous margin, not in any way indented). The Margin is slightly rolled under. When mature, the leaves are thinly leathery and hairless. They are broadly elliptic to obovate and up to 9 x 6cm. New leaves are noticeably hairy, metallic brown or slightly red. There are 8-12 pairs of lateral Veins, which are more visible below. The Apex is rounded to abruptly tapering or tapering to a blunt tip and the Base tapers gradually. The Midrib protrudes below and may be slightly sunken above. The Petiole (leaf stalk) is grooved above and up to 1cm long.
The white Flowers may be tinged with pink. The Buds are densely hairy. They occur singly or they occur in a stalked cluster in 3’s. Flowers occur on new growth in the axils of leaves and are dioecious (having male and female flowers on separate plants). The Calyx is 4-lobed and sharply distinguished from the Pedicel (stalk of a single flower) and is joined to the ovary. The Corolla has 4 petals. In the Male Flower 8 Stamens are present. The versatile (hung or attached near the middle, and usually moving freely) Anthers have 2 thecae (pollen sacs) that are axe-shaped and dehisce through longitudinal slits. In the Female Flower, there is a single Pistil (a unit of the gynoecium, the female element of the flower, composed of the Ovary, Style and Stigma). The Ovary is inferior (one, which is seemingly below the calyx). The Stigma (the part of the pistil that receives the pollen) is capitate (shaped like a head). (Sep-Dec).
The large and more or less spherical fleshy Fruit is a Berry (pulpy, indehiscent fruit like a grape or tomato). It is up to 2,5cm in diameter and crowned with a persistent Calyx. The yellowish pulp has an outward appearance that matures from green to bright red or dark purple. The berry contains up to 2 large, round Seeds. (Dec-Mar).
Distribution & Ecology
The Trees are located in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Swaziland and Mozambique. They are found on rocky outcrops or in forests and are usually within the mist belt. Baboons consume the Fruit.
The edible Fruit is good tasting and can be made into jelly.
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.
Lawrence, G. H. M, 1951. Taxonomy of Vascular Plants, The Macmillan Company, New York. Tenth Printing 1965.
Palmer, E. & Pitman, N. 1972. Trees of southern Africa, Balkema, Amsterdam, Cape Town.
Schmidt, S. Lotter, M. & McCleland, W. 2002. Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and the Kruger National Park.
van Wyk, B. & van Wyk, P. 1997 Field guide to Trees of Southern Africa, Struik, Cape Town.