Belhambra

Belhambra

Phytolacca dioica (Phytolaccaceae)

Common Name:

Belhambra

Scientific Name:

Phytolacca dioica (Phytolaccaceae)


Alternative common names:

Monkey grape, ombu, poke berry, umbra tree (English), belambraboom, dikboom, bobbejaandruifboom (Afrikaans), uMzimuka (isiZulu)

Description:

An impressively large, soft-wooded, semi-evergreen tree capable of growing 12-20m high, with a short, buttressed trunk and a hugely branched, rounded crown. The leaves and stems are succulent. It has bright green leaves about 70mm long which oval-shaped terminating in a gentle point with smooth margins. Creamy-yellow flowers appear in clusters about 100mm long with male and female flowers appearing on separate trees from September-December. This tree produces berry-like fruits which are initially green then turning black, almost resembling a mulberry. It invades savanna, fynbos, coastal bush, river banks, roadsides and urban open spaces.

Additional Information


Where does this species come from?

South America (northern Argentina, southern Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay)

What is its invasive status in South Africa?

Existing legislation: CARA 2002 - Category 3 NEMBA 2020 - Category 3

Where in South Africa is it a problem?

Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng

How does it spread?

Spreads by seed dispersal

Why is it a problem?

It competes with indigenous species. Because of its large size even a single tree could have a significant effect on a natural ecosystem. In urban areas seedlings often germinate along fencelines or walls and can cause considerable damage to property if they are allowed to grow to tree size. Indigenous birds could neglect the dispersal of indigenous plants as a consequence of their preference for the fruits of this alien species

What does it look like?

General description: A large, soft-wooded, semi-evergreen tree capable of growing 12-20m high, with a short, buttressed trunk and a hugely branched, rounded crown. The leaves and stems are succulent.
Leaves: Bright green leaves about 70mm long and oval-shaped terminating in a gentle point.
Flowers: Creamy-yellow flowers in clusters about 100mm long with male and female flowers appearing on separate trees from September-December.
Fruit/Seeds: Berry-like fruits, initially green then turning black, almost resembling a mulberry

Does the plant have any uses?

Mostly used for shade and impressive garden ornament

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