South African Star Apple | Fire-sticks – Diospyros austroafricana
The South African Star Apple, Diospyros austroafricana, also known as Fire-sticks, is a small, rounded and dense evergreen. This multi-stemmed, fruit bearing dioecious shrub or small tree is indigenous to Northern South Africa. The plant grows 2 to 10 meters tall attractive plant that turn a blackish-red in winter.
Diospyros austroafricana leaves are small, 3.5cm long and 0.5cm wide, alternate, narrow-obovate, helical and crowned at the tips with felt-like hairs that gives the plant a dust-covered grey appearance. Leaves are darker and velvety on top and felted beneath. Flowers are pendulous, little, cream or pink and even red, lantern-like.
South African Star Apple Fruit
The tree bears 1.5cm, velvety, round, fleshy, edible fruits that matures red to black and contain 2 or more seeds. Fruit is consumed fresh or made into jellies and drinks including alcoholic drinks such as wine.
South African Star Apple Propagation Methods
Plant propagation is from fresh seed and cuttings, which are very difficult to root. Germination takes place within three to four weeks. The plant is a drought tolerant plant that also can tolerate cold temperatures and hard frost. It is a slow growing, about 30cm a year tree, and the first flowering takes place at about four years. It requires full sun and well-drained soil and a region with cool summers and moderate rain fall, to grow best, but, it will survive just about any kind of adversity. Since male and female are separate trees only female plants bear fruit.
Diospyros austroafricana is a member of the family Ebenaceae the genus Diospyros.
South African Star Apple, Diospyros austroafricana
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