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Combretum bracteosum

   (Family: Combretaceae)
   
Afrikaans: Hikklimop English: Hiccough creeper, Hiccup nut, Hiccough-nut Xhosa: uQotha  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Climber
Height: 2 - 4m
Spread: 4 - 5m
Special properties:
  Frost Tolerant (light)
Rarity Status:
Common
   
Preferred rainfall: Summer
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Biome: Forest
 
Flowering time EDIT
                x x    
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
 
Orange
 
Red
 
  Flower info
  The flowers are brilliant orange-red and clustered into infloresences. Flowering is profuse and creates a striking display.
 
 
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf type
Leaf arrangement
 
  Leaf info EDIT
  Evergreen
  The leaves are simple and can be opposite, alternate or whorled, depending on where they are on the plant. The side veins of the leaves do not reach the margin (edge) of the leaf and loop into the side vein in front of it. The leaves are dark green in colour although very new leaves may have a purple tinge. Autumn colours are a reddish purple.
 
 
Fruit type EDIT
Fruit colour
Green
Brown
Fruit size Width: 20mm
 
  Seed info EDIT
  The fruit (± 20 mm across) appears between late summer and autumn (December to March) and is green, ripening to reddish brown; it is almost spherical and does not have wings, although it may be slightly 5-angled. It is a true nut in that it has a hard outer shell.
 
 
Description EDIT
The hiccup nut is a usually a shrub or small tree which scrambles into nearby vegetation. It grows up to between 2 and 4 m high, although if it has support from other trees it can reach up to 8 m.

The spectacular blaze of flowers makes it a sought-after garden plant, especially in medium to large gardens.
Growing EDIT
The hiccup nut may be grown from seed. The hard outer shells need to be cracked and the seeds removed. In general, Combretum seed needs to be fresh for successful germination. The seeds should then be soaked for 12 hours where they will absorb water, allowing germination to begin. You will see the seeds swell up. They can be sown lengthways on the seedling mix and covered lightly. Germination mostly takes place after 26 days, although some may start earlier. Seedlings can be transferred successfully to bags. In frosty areas allow the young plants to grow to a height of at least 0.5 m before planting out. Cuttings with a heel can also be used, as well as lifted, rooted suckers from an established plant. Select well-drained areas for planting since in its natural habitat, it favours growing in sand. Add plenty of good compost to the soil. Once planted out, flowering should occur in about three years.

It may be wise to grow it in a protected position, perhaps against a west or north-facing wall in frosty areas.

Could be grown up a strongly constructed pergola, along a fence or down a bank. To retain a shrub shape, prune off the long twining stems as they grow. It might prove helpful for gardeners battling against salt-laden winds, as it grows naturally close to the sea and enjoys sandy soil.
Distribution EDIT
Found naturally along the coast in KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape. It grows in sand close to the sea, favouring dune forest and riverine forest (and their margins). Apparently it is very occasionally found somewhat inland from the sea, usually at low altitude and growing in sand. Its natural habitat is generally frost-free and with a reasonably high annual rainfall.
History EDIT
Uses EDIT
The roasted nuts are apparently eaten. There is confusion regarding its use medicinally-some references say that it is recorded as being used to cure hiccups, others that it causes them. One reference, Watt & Breyer-Brandwijk (1932), report that the plant does contain a toxic substance, saponin.
Ecology EDIT
The hiccup nut is a host plant for the Striped Policeman butterfly, Coeliades forestan. It has a very strikingly marked caterpillar, yellowish white with dark brown to black stripes and an orange head. The adult is predominately brown and white with a striped abdomen.
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