Calodendrum capense

Today’s entry was again written by Alexis:

Thank you to Van Swearingen (Van in LA@Flickr) who shares this photo from the Los Angeles County Arboretum via the Photo of the Day Flickr Pool.

The name Calodendrum capense holds no surprises–it comes from the Greek kalos and dendron, meaning “beautiful” and “tree”, and the Latin word for “from the Cape”. However, its common name Cape chestnut is somewhat misleading because this species is not a true chestnut. Chestnuts belong to Fagaceae, or beech family, while this species is included in Rutaceae, the rue or citrus family. To take it one step more removed from chestnuts, it was actually thought to resemble the horse-chestnut (itself not a true chestnut, but a member of the Sapindaceae or soapberry family). Calodendrum capense is native to the eastern and southern coasts of Africa, from Kenya to South Africa (incuding some of the Cape provinces) where is grows in highland and coastal forests. It favours slightly inland areas near to the coast where the water moderates temperatures but the winds are not too strong.

The flowers have five narrow petals accompanied by ten stamens, only five of which are fertile and produce pollen. What look like petals with dark spots (oil glands) in the photo are actually the remaining five sterile stamens known as staminodes.

Though not a true chestnut or horse-chestnut, Calodendrum capense‘s fruits do have a resemblance to the bumpy fruits of horse-chestnut. The fruits of Calodendrum capense enclose large black seeds that contain an oil that can be used in soap-making. The seeds are also a food source for some animals, or as in the case of a native swallowtail butterfly, the tree is also a place to breed.

Calodendrum capense

2 responses to “Calodendrum capense”

  1. Janey Pugh

    I so much love receiving your posts. Always informative.
    I’ve learnt so many interesting things.
    Thank you and kind regards,

  2. elizabeth a airhart

    oh this is just a hearts delight to look at full of stars and girly stuff
    and all pink, ladies with thier best hats on at a summers house tea
    thank you

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