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Useful Tropical Plants

Osyris compressa

(P.J.Bergius) A.DC.

Santalaceae


A very variable species, it is closely related to Osyris lanceolata but differs in having all its flowers hermaphrodite, the leaves generally opposite and differences in the floral parts[
610
Title
Flora of Tropical East Africa
Publication
 
Author
Beentje H.J.
Website
http://plants.jstor.org/search?st=396814
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
2002
ISBN
 
Description
Available on-line, a modern flora of East Africa.
].

+ Synonyms

Colpoon compressum P.J.Bergius

Euonymus colpoon Lam.

Fusanus compressus (P.J.Bergius) Murray

Thesium colpoon L.f.

Common Name: Cape Sumach

Osyris compressa
Flowering plant
Photograph by: Abu Shawka
Public domain
Osyris compressa Osyris compressa

General Information

Cape sumach is an evergreen shrub, sometimes attaining the size of a small bushy tree; it grows from 1 - 5 metres tall[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. The bole can be up to 25cm in diameter[
494
Title
Report on the Natal Forests
Publication
 
Author
Fourcade H.G.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Wm. ;, Natal
Year
1889
ISBN
 
Description
Contains a list of the trees of Natal, with a brief listing of their uses, including many traditional uses. The report can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. Although capable of photosynthesis and thus producing its own food, it is also a parasite on the roots of other plants[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
The plant is gathered from the wild for local use as a source of food, medicine and other commodities. The fruits are highly decorative on the plant - since they don't ripen all at once, the plant can be very attractive for long periods throughout the year. And so the plant is often grown as an ornamental. They also attract birds and insects to the garden wherever they are planted[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References

308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.

Range

Southern Africa - southern Mozambique, Swaziland, S. Africa.

Habitat

In scrub and forest on littoral dunes; lower mountain slopes and savannahs[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
,
308
Title
Flora Zambesiaca
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://apps.kew.org/efloras/fz/intro.html
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online flora of plants from the Zambezi River basin. It lists a number of the plant uses as well as the habitats and botanical descriptions of the plants.
].

Properties

Edibility Rating *  *
Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height5.00 m
Growth RateFast
PollinatorsBees, Butterflies, Flies, Ants
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of arid to moist areas in the tropics and subtropics, where it can be found at elevations up to 2,960 metres. It grows best in areas where the mean annual temperature is within the range 14 - 32°c, and the mean annual rainfall from 300 - 2,120mm[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
Grows well in sandy soils and a sunny position[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. Plants do exceptionally well in coastal areas and are very tolerant of windy conditions[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
Individual plants are relatively short-lived but produce an abundance of fruits to ensure reproduction[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
A fast growing plant that establishes itself rapidly through masses of seeds, which are produced for at least eight months of the year[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
Flowers are either just male on one plant or hermaphroditic (can be male or female on the same plant)[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. The flowers of this species are always hermaphrodite - plants with monoecious flowers are more likely to belong to the species O. Lanceolata[
610
Title
Flora of Tropical East Africa
Publication
 
Author
Beentje H.J.
Website
http://plants.jstor.org/search?st=396814
Publisher
Royal Botanic Gardens; Kew.
Year
2002
ISBN
 
Description
Available on-line, a modern flora of East Africa.
].
The flowers and fruits are produced erratically throughout the year[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
As with the other member of the Santalaceae family, the Cape sumach parasitizes nearby plants by means of root attachments. The young plant may utilize water and important nutrients from the host plant, and may become less dependent as it matures; the plant is not entirely dependent on host plants and can survive on its own should the host plant die until another suitable host is found[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

Edible Uses

The fruits are edible and were an important food of the early inhabitants of the Cape[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. The stones were removed and the fleshy part compressed and stored for lean times[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. The fruits are highly decorative on the plant and are ellipsoid, fleshy, about 15 x 10 mm, becoming bright, shiny red and then purplish black as they ripen[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. Fruits don't ripen all at once which is why these plants can be very attractive for long periods throughout the year[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

The bark, when boiled, produces a dark coloured solution that is used to flavour tea[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Medicinal

A boiled concoction of the bark, combined with other herbs, is reputed to be useful in improving blood circulation, as well as the digestive, respiratory and nervous systems. It is given to women after giving birth in order to boost their appetite[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The oils and paste derived from the bark are used to treat skin diseases such as infectious sores, ulcers, acne and rashes[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The tree (part not specified) is known to be disinfectant and a sedative[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. It is reputed to be effective against the killer virus, hepatitis B[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

Plants thrive in sandy conditions and, together with other species of plants, can be used to form a soil stabilizer in coastal dune systems[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
Plants form very effective small windbreaks provided there are enough host plants growing with them[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

Other Uses

Both the bark and the fresh leaves can be used for tanning[
46
Title
Dictionary of Economic Plants.
Publication
 
Author
Uphof. J. C. Th.
Publisher
Weinheim
Year
1959
ISBN
-
Description
An excellent and very comprehensive guide but it only gives very short descriptions of the uses without any details of how to utilize the plants. Not for the casual reader.
,
494
Title
Report on the Natal Forests
Publication
 
Author
Fourcade H.G.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Wm. ;, Natal
Year
1889
ISBN
 
Description
Contains a list of the trees of Natal, with a brief listing of their uses, including many traditional uses. The report can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. A decoction of fresh leaves can be used to tan cotton, fishing lines and nets to make them more durable[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

The bark, stem, seeds and roots are used in the manufacture of aromatic oils that are used in making expensive perfumes, quality lotions, rare soaps and sweet-smelling candles[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The wood yields between 4 - 10% essential oil when distilled[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
]. The heartwood scent is used in sacred ceremonies and to purify holy places. Incense sticks from the wood are burned in temples and houses[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

The wood is heavy, and fine-grained[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
,
494
Title
Report on the Natal Forests
Publication
 
Author
Fourcade H.G.
Website
http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org
Publisher
Wm. ;, Natal
Year
1889
ISBN
 
Description
Contains a list of the trees of Natal, with a brief listing of their uses, including many traditional uses. The report can be downloaded from the Internet.
]. Because of the small size of the tree, it is suitable only for carving ornaments and small utensils like pestles[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
,
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].
The wood has been used for fuel[
303
Title
World Agroforesty Centre
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.worldagroforestry.org/
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent online database of a huge range of trees giving very good information on each plant - its uses, ecology, identity, propagation, pests etc.
].

Propagation

Seed - can be sown in situ, if there are other plants to serve as the hosts[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
It is not possible to grow plants from cuttings[
295
Title
PlantZAfrica.com
Publication
 
Author
 
Website
http://www.plantzafrica.com
Publisher
 
Year
0
ISBN
 
Description
An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

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