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Calpurnia aurea. Wikimedia
Recommended for your garden in the south of Spain: Calpurnia aurea
Gardening

Recommended for your garden in the south of Spain: Calpurnia aurea

A member of the Fabaceae (legume) family, the typical pea-like flowers are a sunny yellow and form on loose racemes that hang gracefully

Denise Bush

Malaga

Friday, 26 April 2024, 13:36

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Calpurnia aurea is a multi-stemmed shrub or small evergreen tree with open canopy and graceful arching branches.

Its common name is wild laburnum, and it does look similar to laburnum, with compound leaves made up of up to fifteen leaflets and dangling racemes of yellow flowers.

The genus Calpurnia has around 16 species, half of which are native to southern Africa. Calpurnia aurea is the most prolific of all of them and is found growing in forest or on its margins, in clearings and on hillsides.

A member of the Fabaceae (legume) family, the typical pea-like flowers are a sunny yellow and form on loose racemes that hang gracefully.

It flowers best after rain although sporadic flowering will take place all-year-round. It is drought resistant once established but will benefit from regular watering during the hottest months. It can be grown in full sun or partial shade but will flower best in full sun. It will cease flowering during periods of extreme heat but resume again as soon as the temperatures drop.

The fruits are long, thin pods up to 12cm long and containing around eight seeds. The pods turn brown and papery when ripe and are easy to propagate.

The wild laburnum is named after the Roman poet Calpurnius who is said to have styled himself on the poet Virgil. Since another genus, Virgilia is named after Virgil and is very similar to Calpurnia, it was decided to name the tree after Virgil's imitator. The specific epithet 'aurea' is Latin for 'golden'.

In various regions of southern Africa, Calpurnia aurea is used medicinally to treat a range of illnesses from lice infestations to stomach complaints and maggot removal. The Zulu word for this plant (umkhiphampethu) means just that, maggot extractor.

Calpurnia is a fast grower but keeps a relatively slender profile so is ideal for patios and can also be grown in containers.

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