CROSS BERRY
(Grewia occidentalis)

A plant of cross berry

 

Family: Tiliaceae

Other names: Lavender flower, Four-corner, Kruisbessie, Mokukutu, Mogwane,
                       Lalanyathi, umSipane , umNqabaza, Mulembu, Nsihana.

 

Cross berry which is sometimes also called lavender flower in English because of its flowers, is a plant of Southern Africa.  This plant can be seen in a variety of habitats ranging from arid karoo, coastal dune bush, evergreen montane forest and wooded grasslands.  Besides South Africa , this tree also grows in some other African countries in Southern Africa.

Cross berry fruit

 Description:

Shrub or small tree, sometimes scandent, up to 4.5(7.5) m tall; young stems stellate-pubescent, sometimes densely so or with long hairs.

            Leaves ovate to elliptic or obovate, 0.610.5 cm long, 0.56.7 cm wide, obtuse to rounded at the apex, rounded at the base, margins serrate, glabrous above, scattered stellate-pubescent to glabrescent beneath; petiole 28 mm long, shortly stellate-pubescent or with long hairs; stipules subulate, 25 mm long.

            Inflorescences terminal and axillary 26-flowered cymes; peduncle 318 mm long, pubescent with stellate and simple hairs; pedicels 818 mm long, pubescent with stellate and simple hairs. Flowers purple, blue, mauve or pink; sepals lanceolate, 1125 mm long, green and pubescent on the outside; petals elliptic to elliptic-oblong, 815 mm long, 2.55 mm wide, obtuse or notched at the apex. Androgynophore glabrous for 0.51 mm at the base, densely pubescent and produced for 25.5 mm above the node; stamens 710 mm long; filaments purple; anthers yellow; ovary 1.52 mm long, densely hairy; style 59 mm long; stigma green.

The lavender coloured flowers of cross berry

            Fruit (1)4-lobed, 815 mm wide, the lobes 58 mm long, 47 mm wide, green maturing orange to orange-red, sometimes yellow or red, sparsely hairy.

Utilization:

The fruit are eaten by local people, particularly children.  In certain areas where the sugar content of the fruits is high, they are collected and dried for later use. The dried fruits are sometimes boiled in milk - a bush milkshake.

Foliage and developing fruits of cross berry

            Beer is also brewed from the ripe fruit in certain areas. Other human uses of this species include using the wood to make bows and spear shafts.

Cultivation:

Crossberry makes a decorative garden plant which is both frost- and drought-hardy. It will grow well if well-watered and planted in good, composted soil.

            The cross-berry may be planted in either full sun or shade. The root system is not aggressive and can therefore be planted near buildings and paving. It is a "must-have" species in the garden to attract butterflies and birds.

            This species is best propagated from seed. Studies have shown that seed which has passed through the gut of monkeys and baboons germinates better than those collected from a tree. This is due to the fact that the seeds chemical inhibitors have been broken down by the animal's stomach acids. However germination is generally fairly good - so perhaps it is not necessary to find a monkey to assist you with your propagation attempts!

 

INPUT FROM

Sharon Turner
Witwatersrand National Botanical Garden, Roodepoort
South Africa

 

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