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Common name:Ant tree
Scientific name:Triplaris americana (Polygonaceae)
Alternative common names:
Triplaris, Indian almond (English); triplaris (Afrikaans)
This tree grows 8-10m high with a straight, smooth, grey trunk with pyramidal crown. Leaves are bright green and smooth, or brownish-velvety beneath along the midrib and veins. Small male and female flowers on separate trees from April to May in large clusters, along densely greyish-yellow, light brown hairy axes. Female flowers red. Shiny brown fruits. Poisonous leaves.
Where does this species come from?Central and South America.
What is its invasive status in South Africa?CARA 2002 – Category 1 NEMBA – Category 1a
Where in South Africa is it a problem?KwaZulu-Natal.
How does it spread?Seed dispersal.
Why is it a problem?Competes with and has the potential to replace indigenous species. The leaves are also poisonous.
What does it look like?General description: This tree grows up to 8-10m and has a straight trunk with smooth, grey bark. Leaves: Leaves are bright green and smooth, or brownish-velvety beneath along the midrib and veins. Flowers: Small male and female flowers on separate trees from April to May in large clusters, along densely greyish-yellow, light brown hairy axes. Female flowers are red. Fruit/seeds: Shiny brown, sharply three-angled seeds, held inside the fruiting perianth, 30-50mm long, with brown hairy base and three pinkish-red wings.
Does the plant have any uses?Planted as an ornament.