Dovyalis caffra

Dovyalis caffra

Dovyalis caffra - Kei Apple

Umkokola or Kei Apple.

 The Umkokola tree, there is a name that rolls off the tongue well and gives a feeling of South Africa. It comes particularly from an area around the Kei River in Southwest Africa.

Its scientific name is Dovyalis caffra, Dovyalis from the Greek meaning spear and caffra is derived from the area called Kaffraria in the Eastern Cape.

This 5-6 metre densely branched, thorny shrub or small tree is a heavy producer of round, 25mm, yellow, apricot textured fruit. The skin is smooth but minutely downy. The strongly acid, juicy pulp is aromatic and has some of the fragrance of ripe apricots. They are used mainly for preserves, jellies and sauces and the under ripe fruit can be used for pickles. If you enjoy acid fruit then a well ripened one can be eaten fresh. I find if they are kept for a few days after dropping then they become quite sweet.

The tree can withstand light frosts and can be used for an impenetrable hedge, nothing, but nothing, will get past this ones thorns, which can be up to 75mm long. I have been told it is used in Africa as a hedge for keeping stock protected from prowling lions etc, so if you’ve got a problem with prowling lions, then why not try it!!!

The plant is a good grower in either full sun or light shade and is very drought and wind resistant. It will also stand salt spray. (It is used in the Mediterranean as a trimmed hedge). Tolerant of most soils but reasonable drainage would be best.It will stand light frost.

Male and female are on different plants so if fruit is what you want then plant one male to every twenty or thirty females.