What is African Sumac? Complete Guide

African sumac is a common tree in South Africa’s Highveld and Bushveld, although it is not found in the Lowveld. Once established, this drought-tolerant plant is native to southern Africa. This tree is known as Searsia lancea or commonly known as karee (archaicly karree). The name African sumac is used in North America. 

African Sumac (Karee / Searsia lancea) is an evergreen, cold resilient, drought-tolerant tree that may grow up to 8 meters tall and spread 5 meters wide.

Some time ago, the fruits were mashed, water was added, and fermentation began, yielding a delightful brew. The leaves were also utilized in herbal medicine.

What is African Sumac

If left alone, this tree will eventually grow a shrub-like canopy of leaves to the ground. This means that the primary training for this tree will be to build and maintain an upright and arborescent crown architecture by crown raising throughout its life.

Female plants produce little (less than 1/8 inch long), greenish-yellow flowers in panicles from June to September; open panicles are 3/4 to 3-1/2 inches long.

Few Interesting Facts About African Sumac

Few Interesting Facts About African Sumac

  • Foliage/Texture: Trifoliate leaf, thin and lanceolate leaflets to 4 inches in length, pale green when young to dark green when old.
  • Water requirement: Medium/Low water consumption
  • Soil: Tolerant of alkalinity in the soil.
  • Light: Full sun
  • Cold tolerance: around 15 °F 
  • Height range: 5– 8 meters
  • Width range: 5 meters
  • Rate of expansion: Fast, Medium
  • Propagation: Very easy to develop seeds.
  • Flower color: Yellow, Green
  • Flower season: Spring, Winter
  • Fruit color: Red, Brown
  • Diseases and pests: Root and crown rots are common, and aphids are a springtime issue.
benefits of African sumac

Benefits of African Sumac Tree 

• Simple to shape and form by pruning or shearing

• Contains evergreen leaves, allowing them to produce year-round greenery

• Long-lasting, thrives in the extreme desert heat and cold and can tolerate strong winds.

• Used in the paper business; wood is used to make furniture.

• High drought tolerance

Disadvantages of African Sumac Tree

• The lack of beautiful flowers

• African sumacs are attacked by the fungus that causes verticillium wilt.

• Certain parts of African sumacs are toxic to humans.