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  • Writer's picture Hendrik Maat

Common Star-chestnut (Sterculia rogersii)

At Swebeswebe, various factors such as minerals, rocks, slopes, elevation, and water accessibility contribute to the diverse assortment of plant species. The region's landscape, which features mountains, inclines, cliffs, deep valleys, plateaus, and vast sandy Bushveld flatlands, supports an extensive range of flora in sweet, sour, and mixed veld.

In the broader vicinity, there are 1,656 plant species, with 143 of them being red data species.

Significant species encompass Marula, Shepherd, and Leadwood trees, while striking flowers consist of Wild Gladiolus, Bushman Poison Bulb, Ipomoea species, and Leopard Orchid, among numerous others.

Today, we would like to show you the Common Star-chestnut (Sterculia rogersii). You can find this specific tree on the footpath up to the vulture restaurant, about a 30 minutes walk from Duna.

The common star-chestnut is an unusual looking tree; making it hard to miss with its fat trunk that resembles molten material both in shape and in its grey-pink colour.

The term "star-chestnut" originates from the fruit's unique characteristics, which include three to five fuzzy, boat-like carpels arranged in a star-like formation. Each of these carpels is soft and approximately 5 cm in length, featuring a noticeable beak. They open up to expose black seeds surrounded by slender, delicate hairs. While the seeds are consumable, it is important to avoid touching the stinging hairs, which can cause irritation similar to the bristles on a hairy caterpillar when they come into contact with the skin.

Facts about the common Star Chestnut:

Height - About 5 m

Growth form - Fat-stemmed and low-branching

Leaf type - Simple

Leaf arrangement - Alternate

Leaf margin - Entire (3-lobed)

Habitat - Low-altitude bushveld, dry and rocky areas

Deciduous or not - Deciduous

Most notable fruit/flowering season - Sept-Mar (fruits and flowers)


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