Author: Jan Scholten
English: Red beech.
Region: South Africa, Eastern Cape to Limpopo, Swaziland.
Habitat: well-watered areas; coastal, scarp and mistbelt forests, rock outcrops, escarpments, riparian fringes, woodland; prefers warm, moist regions; tolerant of drought and slight frost; sea level to 1250 m.
Ecology: bark and foliage are browsed by Black rhino.
Use: wood for furniture, planks, fence posts; bark, red, as muti; sticky milky sap for glue, to fix assegai blades to their handles, depilatory.
Tree, leafy, evergreen; mostly dioecious; medium to large; 6 to 10 m tall; rounded crowns; grow relatively fast, up to 80 cm a year.
Stem: 1 m in diameter; bark smooth and brown when young, darker and rough with age; branches have a rough texture and retain leaf scars, exude a sticky milky sap when broken; bark somewhat poisonous; wood fine-grained, not very durable.
Leaves: strikingly yellow or red; simple, like Mango leaves; scattered, alternate or subopposite arrangement; 15 by 3 cm; paler below than above; glabrous; leathery; linear-oblong to narrowly elliptic; margins frilled or wavy, tightly rolled under; primary, lateral veins have a straight and parallel arrangement, terminate on, and often fork near the leaf margin; light in colour, contrasting with the dark, glossy upper surfaces.
Inflorescence: axillary or terminal panicles.
Flowers: small, ± 4 mm in diameter; greenish-white when male, pink to red; flowering in early spring, August to October; ovary is ovoid; calyx is saucer-shaped; 5 merousl; female flowers have three styles.
Fruit: indehiscent; smooth, fleshy drupes; pale mauve when mature; contains a single seed.
Dispersion: various forest mammals, birds.