Kei-apple and a Chameleon - Botanical illustration

Maree Clarkson

Ballito, South Africa

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Kei-apple and a Chameleon – Botanical illustration

10_07_2016 – Dedicated to all Chameleon-lovers!
Ink sketch and watercolour on Bockingford 300gsm – Kei Apple tree and a Flap-necked Chameleon (Chamaeleonidae – (Chameleo dilepis).
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Kei-apple, Dovyalis caffra, is well known all over the eastern parts South Africa, common in open bush and wooded grassland, and often near termite mounds. It belongs to a cosmopolitan family, the Flacourtiaceae, which are all good, fruit-bearing shrubs or trees, very often armed with vicious spines, and its name derives from the Kei River where it grows in abundance as a thick, shiny, spiny shrub up to three metres in height. The branches are armed with straight, robust spines up to 7 cm long.
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Some trees may grow to nine metres with a thick crown of green foliage; these large specimens are often less spiny as the tree has put its energy into its bulk, rather than into thorn production. The tree is known by a variety of other names: Dingaan’s apricot, wild apricot, wilde-appelkoos, appelkoosdoring, um-Qokolo (Xhosa and Zulu) amongst others. Although it is indigenous to warmer areas, it will survive mild frost, and long periods of drought. It grows well in poor soils. The Kei-apple makes a worthwhile addition to your garden as it serves a multitude of purposes, not least of which as a source of food for humans and animals alike.
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Fresh, ripe fruits are rich in Vitamin C and pectin and, following the example of the Pedi people who squeeze the juice onto their pap (porridge), they make an excellent addition to a fruit salad and to muesli and yoghurt. Nature seems to know best when to give us the right foods to boost our immune systems in preparation for the onslaught of winter colds and ‘flu.
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Last year my trees also bore an abundance of fruit for the first time ever and I ascribe this to the fact that we get heavy frost here in Tarlton (South Africa). It has taken almost seven years for my trees to reach just over three meters tall and I was absolutely thrilled to have the fruit. Of course I had to try them but they really are too acidic, with a slight hint of sweetness, to enjoy on a full-time basis. And I’m therefore also not surprised at all that Torti, my Leopard Tortoise, did not touch any that had fallen on the floor. But they look really beautiful displayed in a dish!
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The Kei-apple is easily propagated from seed. The fruits must be ripe before they are collected. The seed must be cleaned and dried in a shady spot before planting. They should then be sown in seedling trays filled with river sand or seedling mix. The seeds must be pressed down into the sand until they are level with the surface of the sand and then covered with a layer of fine sand. The Kei-apple can also be propagated from hardwood cuttings as long as they are treated with root-stimulating hormone before planting. It also has a good growth rate of about 600 mm per year.


31st July 2016 – FEATURED in “Individual Talent on Display”
5th September 2016 – FEATURED in “Yahoo-Doodles”
8th September 2016 – FEATURED in “Just for You—DEDICATIONS”
13th November 2016 – FEATURED in “Image Writing”

Artwork Comments

  • Elizabeth Kendall
  • Maree Clarkson
  • Kay Cunningham
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  • Ann  Warrenton
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  • vigor
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  • Ann  Warrenton
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  • Susan Werby
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  • MotherNature2
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  • vigor
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  • Sandra Fortier
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  • Kanages Ramesh
  • Maree Clarkson
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