There has been considerable uncertainty amongst botanists as to the best way of treating the genus Searsia, with some viewing it as a genus distinct from Rhus, whilst others see insufficient differences and place it as a subgenus of Rhus. There seems to be a growing acceptance that Searsia is distinct and it is treated thus here.
Rhus denudata Licht. ex Schult.
Rhus fragrans Licht. ex Schult.
Rhus lancea L.f.
Rhus viminalis Aiton
Searsia lancea is an evergreen shrub or small tree with a dense crown of somewhat pendulous branches; it can grow 6 - 12 metres tall. The tree usually branches from very low down the bole[
The edible fruit is sometimes gathered from the wild for local use. The plant is cultivated as a hedge in S. Africa[
]. An excellent shade-providing tree, it is good for planting along the sides of roads, being able to tolerate to poor soil conditions[
The pollen is said to be allergenic[
Southern Africa - Malawi, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and S. Africa.
Savannahs, open woodlands and riverine forests at elevations from 100 - 2,300 metres[
]. An understorey tree in Acacia woodland and along drainage lines, rivers and streams. It is often found growing on lime rich substrates[
|Other Uses Rating
Searsia lancea is not very cold-tolerant, but is able to tolerate occasional temperatures falling to around -5 to -10°c when dormant so long as the branches have been fully ripened by a hot summer[
Requires a sunny position[
]. Succeeds in poorly drained soils[
]. Established plants are drought resistant[
Rhus lancea is often cultivated as an ornamental in the southwestern United States, where it is not only well established (and generally valued) as a landscape tree, but has become naturalised, and could pose a threat to natural ecosystems, especially desert washes[
The tree can grow up to 80cm a year and is thus fairly fast growing[
The dark reddish brown bark has a sweet, spicy scent[
A dioecious species, both male and female forms need to be grown if fruit and seed are required.
]. The fruit has been fermented to make a beer[
]. The fruit is a small round, glossy tan drupe, 4 - 6mm in diameter, in a hanging many branched cluster[
The roots, leaves and stem bark are used to treat skin diseases[
A root infusion is taken to treat abdominal and chest complaints and diarrhoea[
]. The roots are chewed as a treatment against stomach-ache[
A leaf decoction or infusion is taken to treat measles and pustules[
The vapours from leaves in a bath of hot water are inhaled to cure cough[
Bark extracts have shown in-vitro antibacterial activity against a wide range of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria[
The leaves yield 0.2% of an essential oil, with α-pinene, benzene and δ-3-carene as main constituents. The oil showed remarkable anti-oxidant activity and dose-dependent antibacterial and antifungal activities. These activities may be associated with the high concentration of α-pinene in the oil (87%).[
Rhus lancea is suitable for use as a large hedge along the boundaries of properties such as farms because of its dense growth habit[
]. The density of the plant makes it suitable for use as a screen or barrier against wind, noise or objectionable views, as well as to provide privacy[
Searsia lancea is useful in providing natural soil stabilisation and increasing infiltration of rainwater into the soil thus reducing erosion and raising the ground water table[
The tree does not have an aggressive root system and can be used near paving and tarred surfaces[
Because the karee is hardy, frost resistant and evergreen, it is ideal for establishing a protective canopy for frost sensitive and shade loving plants. It could thus be considered as a possible pioneer plant for establishing a new forest in an area that receives frost[
The plant is considered to be an indicator of underground water[
The bark, twigs and leaves are sources of tannin[
A brown dye is obtained from the bark[
The reddish-brown wood is fine textured, heavy, hard, tough and durable[
]. It has a sweetish and spicy smell, works well and takes a nice polish. It is used for fence posts, tool handles and parts of wagons[
]. Bowls, tobacco pipes and bows were also made from the wood[
Seed - the ripe seed should be sown in trays using a good seedling medium and transplanted into bigger containers when the seedlings reach the two leaf stage[
Cuttings can be taken using young growth