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Tree St John's Wort - Hypericum revolutum

by Reinhard Fichtl, German

Names

Curry Tree

Family

Guttiferae (also known as Clusiaceae with Hypericaceae sometimes given as a separate family)

Description

Slender tree or shrub, reaching height of 12 and trunk diameter of 24 cm. The crown of the tree is open with an irregular outline and the branchlets often drooping.

Bark: scaly and often roughly longitudinally fissured, dark brown and corky.

Leaves: opposite, pale green, narrowly elliptic to lance-shaped up to cm long; produced in dense clusters on short shoots; the leaves give off a distinct smell of curry when crushed. 

Flowers: terminal and solitary, large and about cm in diameter. Fruits: woody capsules, containing very many minute black seeds.

Flowering: all year round with individual trees being covered in blossoms at different times.

Habitat

characteristic tree of upper Afromontane rain forests and evergreen bushland. The tree is often deliberately left on farmland and found from 2300-4000 m, especially along the upper tree limit. Hypericum revolutum is often associated with Hagenia-Schefflera forest and Erica arborea. It grows where rainfall ranges between 1000 and 1800 mm per year. 

Distribution

Occurring in Burundi, Cameroon, Comoro Islands, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zaire and Zambia.

Also found in south-west Saudi Arabia and Yemen

Uses

The wood is dark red-brown, fairly hard but flexible. It is popular for making poles in house construction. The wood is also used to make the yoke of the local ox-plough and it is commonly used as firewood. 

Practical notes

Not an easy tree to grow. Propagation can be done from root suckers and cuttings, but seed germination seems to be very poor. It is forest pioneer in plant succession and ecologically important.

Apicultural value

Honeybees collect copious amounts of pollen and abundant nectar from the flowers. This tree is an important honey source at high altitudes. Because of its prolonged flowering time this tree is important for bee colony development. The rich pollen and nectar supplies can stimulate brood rearing even if only one or two trees are flowering.

Recommended for planting to increase honey production.

References

FICHTL,R; ADDI,A (1994) Honeybee flora of Ethiopia. Margraf Verlag, Weikersheim, Germany.