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Virgilia divaricata

   (Family: Fabaceae)
Afrikaans: keurboom English: blossom tree  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Tree
Height: 6 - 10m
Special properties:
  Drought Resistant (heavy)
  Frost Tolerant (light)
Rarity Status:
Preferred rainfall: Winter
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Tolerated soil:  
  Sand (coarse texture, drains easily),
Clay (fine texture, holds a lot of water)
pH: acid
Biome: Fynbos
Flowering time EDIT
              x x x x  
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
Flower shape
  Flower scent EDIT
  sweetly scented
  sunbirds, carpenter bees, honey bees and ants
  Flower info
  pea-shaped flowers in dense terminal sprays about 100 mm long.
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf margin
Leaf type
Leaf texture Hairy
Bark / Stem type
  Leaf info EDIT
Fruit type EDIT
Fruit colour
Fruit size Length: 50mm   
Sow seeds in Spring
  Seeds per fruit 6
Seed colour
  Seed size Length: 3.5mm   
  Seed info EDIT
  Seed should be sown in autumn or spring, in well-drained soil at a depth of 0.5 - 1 cm
Description EDIT
Small to medium-sized tree, with a bushy, rounded to broadly conical growth habit with branches growing close to the ground.
They are very fast growing when young, attaining up to 1.3 m in a year, and reaching their full height in only a few years. V. divaricata rarely exceeds 10 m in height.
It is also relatively short-lived, it's average lifespan being 12 to 20 years.

The bark is silver-grey and smooth in young trees; as the tree gets older the bark turns grey and rough. The trunk can grow up
to 600 mm in diameter.

The keurboom has beautiful, sweetly scented, pea-shaped flowers in dense terminal sprays about 100mm long. V. divaricata has pinkish mauve to violet-pink flowers and the keel has dark-purple tips. The flowers are produced in profusion in spring to early summer.
Growing EDIT
Virgilia is propagated from seed. The seed coat is hard and requires some stimulation to initiate germination. Seeds can be soaked in hot water before sowing, or the seed coat can be cracked artificially. They also respond to stimulation by fire and can be treated with the Kirstenbosch Instant Smoke Plus Seed Primer. Seed should be sown in autumn or spring, in well-drained soil at a depth of 0.5 - 1 cm and covered with the sowing medium or milled bark and then watered. Seed can also be sown in situ, e.g. for forest rehabilitation projects. The seeds are highly fertile and can remain alive for many years after they have fallen, even after as many as 30 years they will germinate if conditions are favourable.
Distribution EDIT
The keurboom is native to a small, narrow strip along the southeastern coast of South Africa. Virgilia divaricata occurs below 1 200 m from Klein Swartberg Mountains to George to Van Staden's Pass near Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape. Both occur in forest margins, most often beside streams or on river banks but also on hillsides and thickets. V. divaricata is found in abundance in the Knysna and Plettenberg Bay area, particularly along the Keurbooms River, which takes its name from this tree.
History EDIT
In earlier times the wood was much in demand for yokes. It was also used for spars, wagon-bed planks and rafters, and can be used for furniture. The transparent gum that exudes from the bark was once used as a substitute for starch.
It is a beautiful tree, suitable for both the domestic garden and big landscapes.
It is fast growing, beautiful in flower and has an attractive growth form.
Ecology EDIT
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