The Tamboti, Spirostachys africana, averages 7 – 9m in height, making it a modest sized tree. It has a rounded crown. The distinctive rough grey black bark is split into neat blocks and distinguishes the tree even when there are no leaves. Semi-deciduous, Spirostachys africana has simple, alternate leaves with finely toothed margins. During spring, the new, young, red leaves are often visible among the older green foliage. Flowering takes place in August, before the young leaves appear and the blooms are often visited by bees. The flowering spikes are unusual in appearance as male flowers appear golden in colour, whereas the female flowers are red. Fruit takes the form of a three-lobed capsule and these open from October to February, often with an exploding sound.
The reason for calling the tree a ‘Jumping bean tree’, is that the Knobthorn Moth often lays its eggs in the fruit and the larvae cause the bean to ‘jump’ once they hatched. The fruit is also much loved by antelope, birds and monkeys. Latex is poisonous as well as the smoke from burning wood.
The Tamboti is attractive tree for a bigger garden. Waterwise and frost-resistant, the tree is a slow grower that do well in clayey soil. It is really a beautiful tree, but not well adapted to growing in a bag.
You may find stock of this plant at Random Harvest.