Looking for a specific tree

  • steblooi
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8 years 2 weeks ago #13292 by steblooi
steblooi created the topic: Looking for a specific tree
Hi all

I'm looking for a specific tree I saw in a book on gardening for birds in South Africa. I've lost the book since though, hope someone can name it for me.

Apparently it gets covered by hairy worms once a year, which attract all kinds of birds to your garden.

The worms aren't detrimental to the tree however, and they only come out on this particular tree.

Any kind of help would be really useful.

Regards.

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  • Doug
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8 years 2 weeks ago #13294 by Doug
Doug replied the topic: Re: Looking for a specific tree
I seem to recall it is called an African Peach or Wild Peach. SOmething like that. I got mine at the indigenous nursery at Walter Sisulu Botanical Gardens near Roodeport.

Be warned though. Those "hairy worms" will not only eat the tree but half your garden. Trust me... My wife was not impressed when the promised cuckoos did not arrive to save hear plants from the ensuing feast....

You could probably even mail the nursery though. They are part of or known as Random Harvest.

Good luck.

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8 years 2 weeks ago #13295 by waldens@faerieglen
waldens@faerieglen replied the topic: Re: Looking for a specific tree
Kiggelaria africana is the botanical name of the Wild peach, and any Indigenous nursery should have it in stock, depending on where you live. It's however not a pretty sight to see all the foliage disappear and these creepy crawlies munching away. (I have nothing against them, they just give me the heebyjeebies)

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8 years 2 weeks ago #13297 by steblooi
steblooi replied the topic: Re: Looking for a specific tree
Thanks a million guys - don't mind the creepy-crawly's - it might even be a convenient spot to get away from the wife!

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8 years 2 weeks ago #13302 by mossie
mossie replied the topic: Re: Looking for a specific tree
Hi Guys

Its a wonderful tree to have in the garden <!-- s:bouncy: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/bouncy.gif" alt=":bouncy:" title="Enthusiastic" /><!-- s:bouncy: --> . Its evergreen, hardy, and grows fast. And if you have curious kids that want to witness butterflies emerging before their eyes, and the full life cycle, it is an education to behold!!! Also great if you love macro photography.

I still haven't seen a cuckoo feeding off the caterpillars yet (in 3 years) :( , but that will come... I have planted three of them now, and have had endless joy from the life they hold dear!!!

The tree comes in male and female forms, so buy one of each if you want to have lots of fruit and caterpillars for the birds.

To stop the tree being decimated in the beginning, you need to control the worms. Rather than spray, remove the leaves with your fingers, usually young leaves at the top of the tree, with yellow eggs underneath. The eggs change to brown as they age, and spread out as the leaf grows. You can also remove the leaves with lots of caterpillars on. After about 2-3 years of this TLC, the tree will be big enough to withstand the onslaught, but in the beginning, the tree gets virtually written off for a few months of the year, so a little outside help is warranted.

Contrary to Doug's experience, our catepillars have not developed an appetite for anything else but the host tree. The biological reasoning being that the tree produces low levels of toxin, that only the worms (and the cuckoo that eats them), can withstand. If they changed their diet, it would make them more edible to other bird species.
The fun part is when they grow big, and migrate away from the tree to pupate, then you see them crawling all over the garden and settling on windows doors, children’s toys etc .... not good for sensitive viewers <!-- s:wink: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_wink.gif" alt=":wink:" title="Wink" /><!-- s:wink: -->

I have attached a few snapshots of what the butterflies, eggs, and larvae look like… enjoy.
Emerging butterfly

Butterfly laying eggs

Butterfly Eggs

The eggs as they age/mature

Newly hatched caterpillar larvae

Larvae in their first week


Regards,

Mossie

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8 years 2 weeks ago #13303 by waldens@faerieglen
waldens@faerieglen replied the topic: Re: Looking for a specific tree
Thanks Mossie, for a very interesting post. Do you perhaps know the name of the butterfly?

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8 years 2 weeks ago #13308 by mossie
mossie replied the topic: Re: Looking for a specific tree
The butterfly is called the Garden Acraea, scientific name Acraea horta

There is a picture and info on the WSBG site. http://www.sanbi.org/sisulu/butterflies.htm

I also found some info on the toxin found in the tree and insects. taken from http://www.springerlink.com/content/g751116h821ht52p/

Abstract All stages in the life cycle ofAcraea horta (L.) (Lepidoptera: Acraeinae) were found to release hydrogen cyanide (HCN) from their crushed tissues, and the source of cyanogenesis was present in the hemolymph of adults and larvae. Comparison with standards on thin-layer chromatograms (TLC) revealed the presence in adults of gynocardin, a cyclopentenyl cyanoglycoside also produced by the larval food plant,Kiggelaria africana L. (Flacourtiaceae). Analysis of adults reared on plant species (Passifloraceae) containing gynocardin and/or other cyanoglycosides suggested selective uptake of gynocardin by the larvae. This is the first demonstration of a cyanoglycoside, other than the acyclic linamarin and lotaustralin, occurring in Lepidoptera and the first evidence for the storage byAcraea butterflies of a plant-produced allelochemical. Possible implications for the understanding of the evolution of acraeine host choice are discussed.


Cheers,
Mossie

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8 years 2 weeks ago #13312 by steblooi
steblooi replied the topic: Re: Looking for a specific tree
Wow, thanks for the wonderful info Mossie.

Can't wait to buy my first tree. No stockists in my area, but have ordered.

Thanks again!

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