The Kei apple grows in valley bushveld, dry areas, wooded grassland, on forest edges, from Eastern Cape through KwaZulu-Natal to Swaziland, into Limpopo [Northern Province] and Zimbabwe.
Common names: Kei-apple (Eng.); Kei-appel (Afr.); motlhono (North Sotho); umqokolo (Zulu); amaqokolo (Ndebele); mukokolo (Shona)
It a lovely evergreen fruit tree or shrub and can be planted as a hedge. It usually grows 3-5 m in height, but sometimes reaches 8 m with a much branched crown. It is a tree or spiny shrub of moderate growth rate that may be planted close together to form a good hedge. Creamy green flowers form in November to December. Male flowers are 3 mm long in dense clusters of 5-10 flowers. Female flowers are found in groups of up to three on stalks 4-10 mm long in leaf axils. The fruits are up to 60 mm in diameter and are yellowish-orange in colour.
The leaves are used as fodder (bulk feed for livestock). The fruits are edible, and make excellent jam and jelly, and, when under-ripe, pickles.
Growing Kei Apple
- Kei apple grows best where the mean temperature (especially day-time temperature) is high. It is also found in forest having a dry season minimum temperature of about 40 C with a maximum temperature of 450 C. It is a drought and frost-resistant species. In South Africa, the tree does best where annual rainfall is 1000 mm to1 700 mm.
- Kei apple is adapted to many varieties of soil, from sandy to loamy clay soils with a preference for well drained and aerated soil. However, the tree can grow well in poor soils. The tree grows well at a pH of 5, 5 to 8, 5.
- The Kei apple is easily propagated from seed.
- Sow seed in seedling trays filled with river sand or seedling mix.
- The seeds must be pressed down into the sand until they are level with the surface of the sand and then covered with a layer of fine sand.
- Seedlings begin to bear fruit in 4 or 5 years.The fruit reaches maturity in 90 days from full flower opening.
Information is for educational and informational purposes only and may not be construed as medical advice. The information is not intended to replace medical advice or treatment offered by healthcare professionals.