Planting and caring for your Black Karee


Thank you for taking me into your care! I’m an evergreen, frost hardy, drought resistant tree, which can reach up to 17 metres in height with a 5 metre spread. I have a graceful, weeping form and dark, fissured bark that contrasts well with my long, thinnish, hairless, dark-green, trifoliate leaves with smooth margins. I bear small yellow flowers followed on female trees by bunches of small yellow-green flattish fruits, which are relished by birds. In earlier times the fruits were pounded, water added and left to ferment, producing an evidently refreshing beer. I’m a good shade tree for gardens, parks and pavements and am one of the most common trees on the Highveld and in the Bushveld in South Africa, but not found in the Lowveld. I favour areas rich in lime in the Karoo and Namibia.


I’m a Rhus / Searsia Lancea – Black Karee

Botanical Name: Rhus Lancea
Common Name: Karee, Karee, Hlokoshiyne
Indigenous/ Exotic: Indigenous
Evergreen/ Deciduous: Evergreen
Dimensions: 6-17m
Frost Tolerance: Frost hardy
Drought Resistance: Drought hardy
Growth Rate: Medium to Fast
Root System: Invasive
Soil Type: Restricted


  • Flowers – tiny, greenish/yellowish (Winter), sweetly scented
  • Fruit – brown/reddish (Spring), edible
  • Foliage – dark green, resinous smell when crushed

Wildlife attraction: Fruit-eating birds such as bulbuls, guinea fowl and francolins. Browsed by game such as such as kudu, roan antelope and sable. Bees and other insects are attracted by the flowers.
Garden Use: A very adaptable tree which can be used as a street tree, near water (Willow appearance), as a shade tree, for establishing a protective canopy for frost sensitive and shade loving plants, as a large hedge, screen or barrier against wind, noise, objectionable views or to provide privacy. It is also used for natural soil stabilisation and increasing infiltration of rainwater into the soil thus reducing erosion and raising the ground water table.
Plant Shape: Small to medium-sized evergreen tree; rounded or dome-shaped, with somewhat drooping branches.

How to plant me

  1. Dig a hole slightly wider and deeper than my roots. (The bigger the better). The extra space below and at the sides will be in-filled; but, having been loosened, will help my roots establish.
  2. Square holes are better than round ones as my roots can go round in circles if unable to break out of a round hole (yes, seriously!)
  3. As I have an aggressive root system don’t plant me near your house, a pool or other buildings.
  4. Although this step is not essential, I will grow better if you mix some compost and bone meal (available at Willow Feather Farm) with the soil taken out of the hole. Also it would be a good idea to fill the hole a little so that I will be exactly the same height in the ground as I was at the nursery.
  5. If I am planted too deep my stem may rot; too shallow and my roots above ground will die.
  6. Before planting remove me from the plastic bag!
  7. Put me in the hole and replace the soil, compost and bone meal mixture, firming it down all around me. My roots must be immobilized, so it’s essential that I am not loose in the ground.
  8. Use the heel of your boot to firm the soil as you back-fill, but do not compact the soil until it is like concrete, as this prevents water and air circulation, causing roots to die.
  9. Water me and cover the soil with a good heap of mulch (e.g. 6-month-old wood-chip).

How to care for me

  • After planting me it is important to water me at least once a week.
  • It is better to give me one good watering once a week than a little bit every day.
  • Monitor me to see if I look thirsty (sagging limp leaves) and water if needed.
  • Once planted you can apply a general fertilizer around my base.  (Culterra 5:1:5  is a good option)
  • As I grow I will require staking and pruning. Stake me against a straight wooden stick or pole, taking my strongest shoot up and pruning the bottom branches off.
  • Relax and watch me grow approximately 800mm each year.


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