General Info

This evergreen Tree may reach 30m high. Twigs have rusty brown hairs. The dark green Leaves are imparipinnate. Flowers are zygomorphic and pea-like. Fruit is a pod – up to 12cm long.

Description

Tree

Philenoptera sutherlandii, Millettia sutherlandii.

RSA Tree No. 228.

Common names: Forest Apple–leaf, Giant Umzimbeet, Bastard umzimbeet

Family: Fabaceae, Leguminosae are Angiosperms (flowering plants) and commonly referred to as the pea, bean or legume family. After the Orchidaceae and the Asteraceae, the Fabaceae is the third largest Angiosperm family with 700+ genera and close to 20 000 species. Local genera include Acacia (Vauchellia, Senegalia), Albizia, Bauhinia, Bolusanthus, Burkea, Calpurnia, Colophospermum, Cyclopia, Erythrina, Erythrophleum, Faidherbia, Indigofera, Philenoptera and Schotia. The Fabaceae are recognisable by their fruit and by their pinnately compound Leaves. Leaves may also be simple and usually have stipules – some of which may be spinescent. Leaflets are usually entire. Flowers are bisexual and bracteate. Regular flowers usually have 4-5 sepals and the same number of petals. Irregular flowers have 4-5 sepals and 5 or less petals. Stamens have anthers that have 2 pollen sacs and there are usually at least twice the number of stamens as petals – often 10. The superior Ovary has one locule that may contain 1 or more ovules. The Stigma and Style are simple. The single carpel develops into the Fruit, which is usually a pod. The pod dehisces on both sides and may break into segments. Seeds vary.

Name derivation: Philenoptera Greek: tractable + winged. This refers to the slightly winged pod. sutherlandii – named after Dr Peter Cormac Sutherland 1822-1900. He was a doctor, Government geologist in Natal in 1854 and Surveyor-general of Natal in 1856.

Conservation Status: L C (Least Concern).

This big, evergreen Tree is up to 30m high and has a trunk that may reach in excess of 1m wide. The Trunk is usually light, pale grey and ends in a dense crown. Forest trees are typically buttressed and here the bark may be olive-grey and often cracked into tiny squares. Branches are smooth and grey. Rusty brown hairs cover young twigs.

Leaves

The light red to purple Flowers have velvety-hairy buds. These buds develop into flowers that occur at branch ends. They are typically pea-shaped. Each Flower is bisexual and zygomorphic (irregular flower: when corolla is divisible into 2 equal halves in one plane only). The Calyx has 5 joined Sepals which are hairy, rust coloured and the lobes are teeth like. The Corolla is divisible into 5 petals as follows: the uppermost is the conspicuous Vexillum or standard petal, which has a light triangular portion at its base. Below this, on either side are 2 Wing petals and these are outside the lowermost 2 joined, incurved Keel petals. There are 9 Stamens joined to form a tube at the base and the tenth, upper stamen, is free. All Anthers are uniform. The superior Ovary has one locule (cavity or compartment) with a number of ovules. This extends into a simple curved Style and a simple Stigma (Dec-Jan).

Flowers

The light red to purple Flowers have velvety-hairy buds. These buds develop into flowers that occur at branch ends. They are typically pea-shaped. Each Flower is bisexual and zygomorphic (irregular flower: when corolla is divisible into 2 equal halves in one plane only). The Calyx has 5 joined Sepals which are hairy, rust coloured and the lobes are teeth like. The Corolla is divisible into 5 petals as follows: the uppermost is the conspicuous Vexillum or standard petal, which has a light triangular portion at its base. Below this, on either side are 2 Wing petals and these are outside the lowermost 2 joined, incurved Keel petals. There are 9 Stamens joined to form a tube at the base and the tenth, upper stamen, is free. All Anthers are uniform. The superior Ovary has one locule (cavity or compartment) with a number of ovules. This extends into a simple curved Style and a simple Stigma (Dec-Jan).

Fruit

The Fruit is a Pod that is initially green, becomes a flat, woody, light brown and is up to 12cm long. Reddish-orange hairs cover the mature pod. (Feb-Sep). Old pods may remain on the tree.

Distribution & Ecology

This tree is Endemic (Endemism is the ecological state of a species being unique to a defined geographic location.) in southern Africa. Trees are normally found in the Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu-Natal e.g. Ngoya Forest, which is on an extensive granitic ridge which rises between 200 and 450+m above sea level. It is about 150km north of Durban and 12km from the coast. This tree occurs in Swaziland (one report). The tree grows best on sandy soil. The Striped Policemen butterfly (Coeliades forestan) larvae feed on the Leaves of this tree.

Ethnobotany

The Wood is soft and not much used.

References

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.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coeliades_forestan

https://vcce.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/VCCE-butterflies.pdf

https://www.geni.com/people/Dr-Peter-Cormack-Sutherland-MD-FRCS/6000000030747215316

http://redlist.sanbi.org/species.php?species=4329-4

https://www.ispotnature.org/communities/southern-africa/view/observation/441035/philenoptera-sutherlandii