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Dovyalis caffra

Kei Apple

Species Information

A shrub or small tree occuring in open bush and wooded grasslands. Often found in Acacia woodland and frequently associated with termite mounds.

  • Height: 3-5m in height, but sometimes reaching as high as 8m.
  • Bark: Grey and smooth, later flaking into square sections. The branches are armed with stout spines/thorns up to 6cm in length.
  • Leaves: Often in tight clusters or fascicles, on dwarf lateral branches. Narrowly obovate to broadly obovate-eliptical with a round apex that is occasionally notched and a tapering to narrowly rounded base. The margin is entire and slightly rolled under, with a petiole up to 5mm long.
  • Flowers: Small, creamy-green in dense clusters, usually on the dwarf lateral shoots. Flowering usually between November and January.
  • Fruit: The fruit is almost spherical, up to 4cm in diameter. Fleshy and apricot-coloured when mature, and fruits between November and January. Pleasantly flavoured and make excellent jam and jelly.
The Kei-Apple is widely cultivated, not only for its fruit, but also as a hedge, even as far afield as Australia, California and Mediterranean countries.

My Tree

Home from the beginners course

Home from the Beginner's Course

In March 2003 I attended a beginner's course at a nearby Bonsai Kai. Included in the course was a tree to practice the elements that we had learned.

The tree was very dry when I received it, including extremely dry roots. It looked like it had not been watered for weeks. I liked the specimen as it had a thickish trunk and lots of potential.

After potting and wiring it at the course, I brought it home for my ever-growing collection.

I placed the tree in a shaded area at home for a little R&R, and after four weeks, the tree started to sprout bright green lateral shoots and leaves.

Now, after eight weeks, I have moved it into a sunny area and cut back some of the new lateral branches as per normal Bonsai practice.

It looks as though I managed to save the tree from near certain death, and it soon should be a good-looking Bonsai.

After a little R&R

After a little R&R

Kei Apple

Winter did not seem to affect this tree much. Lots of foliage started to develop before winter had even started to disappear.

I have had to cut this tree back a couple of times now, and it seems to be growing new shoots on an almost weekly basis.

I removed the wire in July and reapplied it in September.

As you can see, it has even started to bud back down the trunk. A sure sign that the soil is perfect for the tree and that the watering and fertilisation techniques are working.

Incidentally, I continued to fertilise the tree throughout winter with a liquid fertiliser once every four weeks, and watered only when necessary.

Not much has changed with this tree since the last update. I continue to fertilise and cut back where necessary, and the usual training with the wire continues.
Kei Apple

Last updated 2004.04.26