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Cassine peragua

   (Family: Celastraceae)
Afrikaans: bastersaffraan, lepelhout English: Cape saffron, bastard saffron, false saffron, bastard saffronwood Xhosa: iKhukhuzi  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Tree
Height: 2 - 15m
Rarity Status:
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Tolerated soil:  
pH: neutral
  The leaves are reported to be toxic and have caused deaths in animals in trials.
Flowering time EDIT
  x x x x x            
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
  Flower scent EDIT
  Flower info
  Small, white and fragrant, borne in loose branching clusters in from late summer to winter (Feb.-June).
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf margin
Leaf type
Leaf arrangement
Leaf texture Smooth
Bark / Stem type
  Leaf info EDIT
  Tough, thick and leathery, shiny dark green above and paler and smoother underneath, elliptic to almost round, with rounded and often notched tips, 20 to 45 x 15 to 40 mm. New growth is copper-coloured. The margin is slightly rolled under and coarsely and irregularly serrated. The net-veining is conspicuous on both surfaces particularly on the undersurface and if you hold the leaf up to the light it is translucent. The petioles are short (± 6 mm) and the leaves are opposite.
Fruit type EDIT
Fruit colour
Fruit size Length: 5mm   Width: 5mm
  Seeds per fruit 2
  Seed info EDIT
  The fruits are a small oval berry up to 5 mm in diam., green turning yellow then reddish-purple and finally dark purple and fleshy when mature, usually containing 1 or 2 seeds but potentially 6 seeds.
Description EDIT
Evergreen shrub or small to medium-sized tree 2-5 m tall. Can grow into a tree of up to 12-15 m in height with a trunk diameter of 1 m.

Produces small, white and fragrant flowers from late summer to winter.

The bark is greyish brown becoming flaky and falling off in thin scales to expose the powdery saffron-yellow pigment in the outer layers of the bark.
Growing EDIT
Slow-growing, but tough and wind-tolerant tree for small or large gardens. If planted in an exposed situation in a windy coastal garden it will most likely be stunted.

Cassine peragua can be propagated by seed or by cuttings. Seed can be sown fresh in late summer or stored and sown the following spring to early summer. Clean the flesh off before sowing. They could also be sown in autumn in frost-free areas but we have had better results from sowing in the warmer months. Take heel or tip cuttings from semi-hardened-off new growth in spring or early summer. We get good results from choosing the longer, thinner stems from the growth on the shady side of the tree or from inside the canopy. Treat with a rooting hormone, use a well-drained medium like milled bark and polystyrene and place under mist. They are slow to root. If nothing has happened after 3-6 months it is most likely that they have formed a callus but failed to form any roots. Take them out, damage the callus by scoring it, re-treat with rooting hormone and re-plant in fresh rooting medium and put it back under mist. This usually proves effective in stimulating the cuttings to produce roots.
Distribution EDIT
Occurs from the Bokkeveld Mountains to the Cape Peninsula along the coast through the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal into Swaziland and at a few isolated localities in Mpumalanga and Limpopo.
It grows in forest, forest margins and in kloofs, in dune scrub, coastal thickets, on dry rocky areas, on mountain slopes, and along streams.
History EDIT
The wood is yellowish, hard, tough and very handsome when varnished. It was used by cabinet-makers and wheelwrights and makes good sticks.
Ecology EDIT
The fruits are eaten by birds.
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