Botanical name: Schotia brachypetala Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)
Synonyms: Schotia semireducta Merxm.
Weeping Boer-Bean is a handsome, medium to large tree with a wide-spreading, densely branched, rounded crown. It has a single trunk that sometimes branches low down. Trees can becomes as tall as 22 m, but most commonly grow 11-16 m with a spread of 10-15 m. The bark is rough and brown or grey brown. The leaves are compound, with 4-6 pairs of leaflets, each with an entire, wavy margin. The foliage is reddish to coppery when young, turning bright green and maturing to a glossy dark green. In warm frost-free areas this tree is evergreen, but in colder regions it is deciduous, losing its leaves for a short period in winter to spring. The flowers are rich deep red, and are produced in masses, in dense branched heads on the old wood during spring. The flowering time is quite irregular, thus ensuring a longer feeding season for nectar loving birds. The fruit is a hard, flattened, woody, dark brown pod containing flattened, pale brown approximately 2 cm in diameter, seeds with a prominent yellow aril. The pods split on the tree, maturing during late summer to autumn. The woodland tree is native to Africa south of the Zambezi River, where it occurs at middle altitudes.
Medicinal uses: Liquid from the boiled bark are used to treat heartburn and hangovers. Mixtures of the bark and root are used to purify the blood, to treat nervous heart conditions and diarrhoea, and to strengthen the body. The roasted seeds are edible, low in fat and protein but high in carbohydrates. They were widely used as a valuable food source and as a coffee substitute by the early settlers. The bark produces a red-brown or red coloured dye.
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