Ferdinand von Mueller obtained this plant along with many other species from southern Africa for the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne, and many of these were distributed to regional botanic gardens throughout Victoria in the 1880s. The Botanic Gardens, White Hills, received plant material from him as early as 1861.
The Kei Apple is a medium-sized tree that gets its name from the Kei River in South Africa. It is native to the east coast including Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and Tanzania.
It is rare in cultivation but becoming more widely planted where space is available due to its tasty apricot-like fruits (that also leave yellow stains on your fingers). As with many southern African species, it has large thorns, strong timber, and edible fruit and is well adapted to Bendigo's climate.
Our heritage-listed tree is renowned for its size, form, and age and has recently been given a new audience by its incorporation into the new children's play space. In its native habitat, it offers shelter, food, and protection to various species of monkey but here in Bendigo, it has become a kids' climbing tree.
Botanic Illustrator and current FBBG Member, Jan Orr has painted the fruit, thorns, and leaves of this tree. These images have gone from black and white drawings to colour illustrations through to computer-generated embroidery on FBBG uniforms.