🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Kei Apple

This is Dovyalis caffra, the Umkokola, or Kei apple, growing in my garden. It is a small to medium-sized tree, native to southern Africa. Its distribution extends from the Kei River in the south, from which the common name derives, northwards along the eastern side of the continent to Tanzania. The ripe fruits are tasty, reminiscent of a small apple.

It is a usually found in dry types of woodland when it grows to 6m tall. In moister types of open woodland it reaches its greatest size of about 8–9 meters. It is a rather straggly tree, with sharp, 3–6 cm long stem spines in the leaf axils. Buds at the base of the spine produce clusters of alternately arranged simple ovate leaves 3–6 cm long.

The flowers are inconspicuous, solitary or clustered, with no petals. It is dioecious, with male and female flowers on separate plants, though some female plants are parthenogenetic.

The fruit is an edible, bright yellow or orange globose berry 2.5–4cm diameter, with the skin and flesh of a uniform colour and containing several small seeds. Production is often copious, weighing down the branches during the summer. They are juicy, tasty and acidic. I found a lot of them lying under the trees and, to my surprise, untouched by my tortoise. I would have thought that she would like them, as she has a real feast when my peach tree drops the peaches.

Torti - she's a Mountain Tortoise (or Leopard Tortoise - Geochelone pardalis)



  1. Fascinating ... an apple tree with thorns! Maree, I am happy to hear you and the tortoise share the fruit.

    1. Rather unusual, isn't it? Thanks for the visit Kathryn, appreciate that!

  2. The general shape of the leaves and the large thorns on the Kei Apple reminded me of a much smaller house plant I had years ago. I seem to remember its general name was Christ Thorn.

    1. You're right John, it certainly does but, as you say, the Christ Thorn is much smaller and much thornier!



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