Natal Camwood
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Natal Camwood
E Introduced Photo: Aarti Khale
Common name: Natal Camwood, Violet pea
Botanical name: Baphia racemosa    Family: Fabaceae (Pea family)

Natal Camwood is an evergreen shrub or small- to medium-sized tree up to 10 m tall with a dense and somewhat round crown. Trunk is straight, either broad or much branched. The bark is smooth and grey on young branches, becoming rough and brown with age. The leaves are alternate, simple, tapering at both ends, about 2-12 cm long and 1-8 cm broad. The leaf blade is smooth, dark green above, slightly velvety below, with a wavy margin, and the leaf stalk thickens at both ends. Flowers are produced in racemes in leaf-axils, and at the ends of branches, about 6 cm long, pea-flower-shaped, white with a golden yellow, ultraviolet-sensitive spot (honey-guide) on the upper petal, and strongly violet-scented. All flowers open together, appearing from August to January. Fruits are flat, brown to black pods, splitting, 10 cm long. They have an explosive mechanism which aids in seed dispersal. Natal Camwood is found in South Africa, cultivated elsewhere.

Identification credit: Vijayasankar Raman Photographed in Lalbagh, Bangalore.

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