The genus Rhus is undergoing taxonomic review and, if the changes are accepted, this species will be called Searsia pyroides (Burch.) Moffett[
Rhus baurii SchÃ¶nland
Rhus conrathii Burtt Davy
Rhus dinteri Engl.
Rhus flexuosa Diels
Rhus fraseri SchÃ¶nland
Rhus gracilis Engl.
Rhus impermeabilis Dinter
Rhus integrifolia Engl.
Rhus intermedia SchÃ¶nland
Rhus microcarpa SchÃ¶nland
Rhus puberula Eckl. & Zeyh.
Rhus steudneri Engl.
Rhus vulgaris Meikle
Searsia pyroides (Burch.) Moffett
Plant growing in native habitat at the Phalandingwe nature trail, Pelindaba
Photograph by: JMK
Rhus pyroides is a much-branched, deciduous shrub or small tree, frequently with spines; it can grow from 1 - 9 metres tall[
The plant is harvested from the wild as a local source of food, medicines, fuel and toothbrushes. It is sometimes used as a hedge and is suitable for using as an ornamental[
Africa - Cameroon to Ethiopia, eastern DR Congo, Uganda and Kenya, south through eastern Africa to Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland and S. Africa.
Upland evergreen bushland, forest edges, lake shore, river banks, savannah woodlands and bushland, often in thickets or on termite mounds. It occurs naturally both on hill slopes and in valleys, at elevations from 800 - 2,700 metres[
|Other Uses Rating||
|Cultivation Status||Ornamental, Wild
Found mainly in the drier areas of the subtropics and tropics, descending to sea level in the subtropics but found at higher elevations up to 2,700 metres in the tropics. In Tanzania it is found in areas where the mean annual rainfall is in the range 1,000 - 1,700 mm[
]. Plants are tolerant of some frost[
The plant thrives in yellow sandy loams in the wild, though it is tolerant of many soil types[
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required[
Fruit - raw[
]. The tiny fruits have a thin flesh and are occasionally eaten in handfuls as a snack. They can be eaten unripe or ripe, often both mixed together. The unripe fruit are green and have a refreshing but slightly acidic taste, whereas the ripe red-to-black fruits are sweet[
]. The fruits are only 3 - 5mm in diameter, but are produced in clusters on the plant so are fairly easy to harvest[
The fruits are astringent. They are pounded then boiled in water and the decoction drunk to treat diarrhoea[
The roots are pounded and the powder cooked with porridge which is then eaten to treat gonorrhoea[
The bark is astringent. It is boiled in water and the decoction used as a wash for wounds[
The leaves are pounded and used as a treatment for piles[
The plant responds to trimming and can be grown as a hedge[
The stems are used as toothbrushes[
The wood is generall too small to be of much service, but is used to make hoe handles and the branches are used to construct animal enclosures[
The wood is used for firewood and charcoal[
Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe[
]. It germinates in three weeks[
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