Plant pompon trees to celebrate Arbor Week

South Africa’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE) highlights three trees for attention in Arbor Week (1-7 September) each year.

Three 2022 Trees of the Year are:

Common Tree
Pompon tree – Dais cotinifolia

Tree for Promotion
African wattle – Peltophorum africanum

Tree for Appreciation
Quiver tree – Aloidendron dichotomum
Giant quiver tree – Aloidendron pillansii

The list of Trees of the Year (2021-2035) has been released by the DFFE and layed out in a superb pdf by the Dendrological Society of South Africa.

Download versions of this list here:

Forestry Department (DFFE) – List of Trees of the Year 2021 – 2035
Dendrological Society of SA – List of Trees of the Year 2021 -2025

Indigenous pompon tree (Dais cotinifolia)
From a landscaping perspective, the pompon tree is one of the best known and well-loved indigenous trees. It is tough enough to be used as a street tree and small enough to fit into most gardens. When in flower in mid-summer, the tree transforms into a cloud of soft pink balls.

Dais cotinifolia is a small tree growing to 6 metres, with a lovely rounded, leafy crown. The trees flower in summer, any time from November to January. Pompon trees are indigenous to margins of forests, wooded hill slopes and in stony kloofs along the east coast of South Africa.

In very cold areas, pompon trees are deciduous, but in warmer coastal climates, they only lose their leaves for a short time at the end of winter.

Common names: pompon tree, pincushion tree (Eng.), kannabas, speldekussing, basboom (Afr.), intozani (Xhosa); intozwane-emnyama (Zulu). Source:

#Arbor #pompontree #waterwise #landscaping #sali #Daiscotonifolia #Indigenous #kannabas

African wattle (Peltophorum africanum)
A semi-deciduous tree with acacia-like foliage and showy yellow flowers, it’s also an excellent tree for bee-keepers.

This is a big tree and is unsuitable for landscaping on small urban properties. It grows to 15 m with aspreading, untidy canopy. The trees have no thorns.

The African wattle has showy sprays (150 mm long) of bright yellow flowers with crinkled petals on the ends of branches; the stalk covered with reddish brown hairs. These are followed by clusters of thin, flat dark brown/black pods of about 100 mm, tapering to both ends.

This tree is not threatened and is found across tropical and southern Africa. In South Africa, it is widespread in the northern provinces and northern KwaZulu-Natal.

This tree has many uses. Young leaves and pods are eaten by livestock. Flowers provide a high yield of nectar and pollen for bee-keeping. The timber can be used for furniture. The wood is also good for fuel.

It makes a good shade tree for both livestock and humans. There are also various medicinal uses recorded. Roots are used to heal wounds, toothache and throat sores; root, leaves and bark used to clear intestinal parasites and relieve stomach problems; bark relieves colic; stem and root used for diarrhoea and dysentery. It is also used to treat eyes.

Common names: Weeping Wattle, African Black Wattle, African Blackwood, African Wattle (E), Boerboon, Boerboontjie, Dopperkehatenhout, Dopperkiaat, Kajatenhout, Rooikiaat, Witkiaat, Huilboerboom, Huilboom, Huilwattel, Wildewattel (A), Isikhabamkhombe, Umsehle, Umthobo (Z), Mosehla, Mosêhla, Mosese, Motlêpê (NS), Mosêtlha (TW), Musese (V), Ndzedze (TS). Source:

Quiver tree (Aloidendron dichotomum) & Giant quiver tree (Aloidendron pillansii)
The quiver tree is an extraordinary species to be appreciated. Arguably the scarcest of all tree aloes in southern Africa, it is found in the dry, hot extreme arid northwest of South Africa and the rugged mountainous parts of southern Namibia.

From afar, these succulent trees look like mysterious kings guarding the barren desert landscape. On closer inspection, they have beautifully fissured golden bark, white pillar-like stems and pale green leaf crowns reveal a beauty that can only be appreciated in its natural habitat.

Trees can reach a stem height of 10m or more and a stem diameter ranging from 1-2m at the base narrowing to about 0.2m at the tip.

These are endangered species living in a specialised biome of southern Africa according to the latest IUCN criteria (Loots 2005). The species are protected by the Nature Conservation Ordinance and listed on CITES Appendix 1.

Its threats derive mainly from its small population size, low natural recruitment, illegal collecting, and habitat loss through mining, impact of livestock and climate change.

Where will you find quiver trees? On the barren and rugged mountainous areas associated with an arid climate that gets most of its rain in the winter. They are also found on low gravel slopes while others are found in or near dry river beds amongst large rocks.

The few remaining populations are found in the extreme northwestern parts of the Northern Cape and the southwestern extremities of Namibia at altitudes ranging from 250-1000m.

The genus name Aloidendron is a combination of Aloe and dendron – the latter referring to their tree like habit. Aloe is derived from the Arabic, `Alloch’ and translated as `Allal’ in Greek and Hebrew, literally meaning bitter or bitter sap, referring to aloe sap.

The species was named by South African botanist Louise Guthrie (1879-1966) in 1928 to honor Neville S. Pillans, the well-known Cape botanist who first collected it at Cornell’s Kop in the Richtersveld.

The common name comes from a translation of the Afrikaans name `reuse kokerboom’ which translates as giant quiver tree, alluding to its grotesque size and the hollowed stems of a related species (Aloidendron dichotoma) that were used to make quivers for arrows.

The bright yellow flowers produce nectar which is harvested by sugarbirds and ants. Generally, flowers are pollinated by birds, bees and ants. When capsules dry out, the winged seeds are carried by the wind, often landing in bushes where they germinate, making full use of the shelter and shade.

Out of the three related species namely A. pillansii, A. dichotoma and A. ramosissima, A. pillansii is most threatened and regarded as an endangered species. This is due to its highly localised habitat, small population size and low natural recruitment.

Common names: giant quiver tree, bastard quiver tree (Eng.); reuse kokerboom, baster-kokerboom (Afr.) Source: