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Recommended Indigenous Trees for Pools - Part Three

Nestled beneath the warm South African sun, where crystal-clear waters meet the beauty of the natural world, a hidden gem awaits discovery. Picture a serene poolside haven, where indigenous trees blend seamlessly with the environment, adding charm and character to your outdoor oasis. In this article, our indigenous plant experts from Random Harvest Indigenous Plant Nursery will be your guides, helping you discover the perfect trees to plant around your pool. Get ready to explore the beauty, culture, and sustainability that these remarkable trees bring to your South African poolside paradise.

Recommended Indigenous Trees for Pools - Part Three

Diospyros whyteana -  indigenous trees South Africa

Diospyros whyteana

Bladder-Nut (E); Swartbas (A); munyavhili (V); umKhaze (Z); umTenatane (X); Mohlatsane (NS)

Large, hardy, very decorative, evergreen shrub or small tree with glossy, dark green leaves and bell-shaped white flowers from July to Oct. The glossy, dark foliage is almost mirror-like and is outlined in fine blond hairs.

The fruits are red when ripe, enclosed by bladder-like structures. As with all Diospyros spp. sexes are on separate plants, therefore only female plants bear fruit. Attracts birds to the garden.

It is an attractive garden subject and can be used for hedging. Grows in sun or semi-shade. It also makes an excellent bonsai, container plant and small tree when pruned up.

Historically the seeds were used as a coffee substitute. Used medicinally.

Size: 4 to 7m
in Gauteng 2 to 4m

S.A. No.: 611

Probably the perfect small tree, but it is not easy to come by pruned into a single stemmed tree.

Dombeya cymosa - indigenous trees South Africa

Dombeya cymosa

Natal Wild Pear (e), Nataldrolpeer (a), iBunda (z), uZingathi (x)

Hardy, semi-deciduous, slender, shrub or small upright tree with clusters of small snow-white, sweetly scented flowers from March to May. Small, dark green, thinly textured foliage with a few red leaves in a gracefully drooping crown at all times and yellow autumn colours.

Eight species of butterfly use it as a host plant and excellent honey is produced from the flowers. Ideal for small gardens and for planting in small groves. Grows in semi-shade and full sun.

Size: 2 to 8m: in Gauteng 2 to 4m

S.A. No.: 469

The leaves are quite large but are thinly textured and should not create a problem in the pool area.

Dombeya tiliacea - indigenous trees South Africa

Dombeya tiliacea

Forest Wild Pear (E); Bosdrolpeer (A); iBunda (Z); uTyibo (X)

Hardy, deciduous, small tree or multi-stemmed shrub with dark, heart-shaped, thinly textured leaves and dark fissured bark. The umbels of large (2.5cm dia.) sweetly scented, pure white flowers are carried in fragrant clusters from April to July.

This tree is a sight to behold with its masses of pure white flowers that are buzzing with pollinators and the birds that feed on them. A lovely garden subject for sun or semi-shade.

This plant also makes a wonderful formal or informal hedge. The dried flowers are attractive either left on the tree or used in dried arrangements or as pot-pourri.

Size: 3 to 4 m

S.A. No. 472

The Forest Wild Pear (Dombeya tiliacea) is a gorgeous deciduous tree and although it has large leaves they are thinly textured. Note: The Wild Pear (Dombeya rotundifolia) is not suitable as the leaves are very thick and leathery.

Ekebergia capensis

Cape ash (E); Essenhout (A); mutovuma (V); umnyamathi (Z)

Fairly hardy, semi-deciduous, lush, medium sized, good shade tree with decorative berries that are much favoured by birds. The small, scented greenish-white flowers appear from Aug. to Dec. Male and female flowers are on separate trees, therefore only female plants bear fruit.

It is also a butterfly and moth host plant. In colder areas the leaves become a beautiful red colour in autumn. Protect from cold when very young. Can be planted in sun or semi-shade and makes an excellent street tree.

Used extensively as a magical and medicinal plant.

Size: 7 to 10m
In Gauteng 6 to 8m

S.A. No. 298

The Cape Ash is quite a large tree and is only ideal for larger gardens. It spreads about 5m to 7 m, so plant at least 3.5m from the pool.

Euclea crispa

Blue Guarri (E); Bloughwarrie (A); mutangule-nyele (V); motlhaletsogane (Tsw); umshekisane (Z)

This very hardy, rather slow growing evergreen tree has a white stem and beautiful blue-green or olive-green leaves. The very small, sweetly scented, greenish-white flowers appear from December to May.

This is a very attractive small tree that has edible black berries and attracts birds and mammals that feed off the seeds.

The dense leafy crown makes this a wonderful screening plant and a must for a bird garden or informal hedge. A delicious jam can be made of the fruit and it has many medicinal and household uses.

Size: 3 to 6m
in Gauteng 2 to 5m

S.A. No.: 594

Beautifully shaped but slow growing tree that can be used as a form plant in the pool area. It does have fairly leathery leaves, but these are small and will not cause significant problems.

Euclea natalensis

Natal Ebony (E); Natalghwarrie (A); mutangule-thavha (V); motlhakola (Tsw); iDungamuzi (Z)

Hardy, evergreen, very attractive shrub or tree (depending on where in grows). It has a dense, spreading crown of small shiny, hard and leathery leaves. The beautiful grey green leaves have a silvery edge making this a gorgeous foliage plant.

The strongly scented small, creamy white flowers from Aug. to March are followed by edible round red to black fruit from March to Dec. It is a little slow growing and should be planted in sun or semi-shade.

It attracts birds and insects to the garden and has many traditional, medicinal and magical uses. Twigs are used for toothbrushes.

Size: 3 to 10m
in Gauteng 2 to 5m

S.A. No. 597.4

Leaves are a little leathery but the shape lends itself to a lovely specimen or form plant in the pool area.

Freylinia lanceolata - indigenous trees South Africa

Freylinia lanceolata

Honeybells (e), Heuningklokkiesbos (a)

Very hardy, large, fast growing, evergreen, graceful shrub with lanceolate leaves and bunches of creamy-yellow, tubular flowers, which are very fragrant and bloom for most of the year.

The flowers smell of honey and attract a myriad of butterflies and other insects. It blooms profusely in late winter when little else is flowering, but does flower on and off for most of the year.

It can be clipped into a formal hedge or just to keep its size under control. It grows well in a sunny garden although it does tolerate partial shade.

It grows naturally along streams and enjoys wet conditions, but also grows well in a normally irrigated garden.

Size: 2 to 4m
in Gauteng 2 to 4m

S.A. No. 670.1

More a shrub that a tree but if you select a few stems to nurture and cut the rest back it makes a beautiful weeping shaped tree.

Galpinia transvaalica

Wild Pride of India (e), Transvaalliguster (a), umHlope (z)

This fairly hardy, decorative, thickset, small, evergreen tree is sometimes multi-stemmed and has waxy, glossy leaves that flush an amazing red in spring.

Showy, white flowers from December to April attract insects to the garden and it is also a butterfly host tree.

A fast growing tree and good container plant that can be pruned into an attractive hedge. Plant in sun or semi-shade.

Size: 3 to 10m


This is a really outstanding tree for the pool area. It can be planted in groups and pruned to any size you require.

Gardenia volkensii - indigenous trees South Africa

Gardenia volkensii

Bushveld Gardenia (E); Bosveldkatjiepiering (A); tshiralala (V); morala (Tsw); imvalasangweni (Z)

Fairly hardy, drought resistant, evergreen tree or large shrub with an interesting, rigid, branching pattern and shiny, bright green leaves. It has large, white, sweetly scented flowers in profusion, from July to October.

The flowers age to a lovely creamy-yellow colour.

The ribbed, egg-shaped fruit are an added attraction to this beautiful small tree. Plant in full sun or semi-shade. Used for medicinal and magical purposes.

Size: up to 5m
in Gauteng 2 to 4m

S.A. No. 691

Will be more tree-like if grown in some shade. Alternately prune regularly when young to push it up into a tree. Plant far enough from the pool (2 - 3m) as the flowers are large, although thinly textured and will break down easily.

Gonioma kamassii - indigenous trees South Africa

Gonioma kamassii

Kamassi (E); Kamassie (A); umGonwane (Z); igala-gala (X)

This species in endemic to South Africa. Fairly hardy, evergreen shrub or small tree with a dense crown of leathery, shiny, dark green leaves. The bark is roughly fissured.

Clusters of small yellowish-white flowers are borne throughout the year but with a peak in October. They are followed by upright leathery pods that split to release the seeds.

Plant in shade or semi-shade, in compost rich soil. Quite similar to Buxus sp. but with larger leaves. Prunes well and makes a decorative garden subject.

Size: 2 to 8m

S.A. No. 641

I have not had much experience with this tree but it should create a lovely small to medium sized tree. Its decorative appearance makes it perfect for an area of focus such as the swimming pool garden.


Got something to say? Join the discussion »
    Posted @ 9/19/2016 6:58 AM by Beukes   
    Beukes's avatar

    We need 2/3 big trees next to our pool. Please advice us on what to choose and can you plant the trees for us?

    Posted @ 6/2/2016 12:01 PM by Heather Balcomb   
    Heather Balcomb's avatar

    Hello there,
    Random Harvest Indigenous Nursery can recommend the following as generally good screening trees, but some will be more suitable than others for your particular purpose. Bear in mind the spread of the tree and the space you have to grow it in, as well as how much shade it will cast on your and your neighbour's garden. The other consideration is how low you would like the screening to start from. I hope these suggestions help:

    · Harpephyllum caffrum
    · Apodytes dimidiata
    · Heteropyxis natalensis
    · Halleria lucida
    · Ptaeroxylon obliquum
    · Rapanea melanophloeos
    The following are shorter but also brilliant for screening.
    · Buddleia saligna
    · Buddleia salviifolia
    · Freylinia lanceolata
    · Freylinia tropica
    · Dodonea viscosa
    · Tarchonanthus camphoratus

    Posted @ 6/1/2016 3:17 PM by Ayesha   
    Ayesha's avatar

    Can you recommend a fast growing tree,that will form a fairly tall screen?(Cape Town)
    Im told that eugenias are now not recommended?

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