The visitors to our Tassel-berry tree (Antidesma venosum)

Sent in by Herman and Jackie Bos

We have lived in Loerie Park close to the Palmiet nature reserve (in Durban) for 20 years. In the time we have lived here we have planted a number of fruit bearing trees. About 18 years ago we planted a Tassel-berry tree on the corner of our deck.

This is a semi–deciduous tree that reaches a height of 8-10m and is usually found on forest margins and wooded grasslands. It bears long thin bunches of very sweet fruit.

The individual berries start in bunches of green berries and then one by one they turn orange and eventually black. What is interesting is that the berries ripen one by one over a period from January to May .

The ripe fruit is deliciously sweet but has a very large pip, therefore not a lot of flesh around the fruit. The sweet fruit is eaten by people, monkeys and most important all the fruit eating birds and fruit bats.

The male and female flowers grow on separate trees. We were lucky enough to have a number of these trees in the Loerie Park forest edges.

Being so close to the house made the tree ideal for photographing the visitors to the tree. Before the berries are ripe we have regular short visits from the Purple-crested Turacos and the various bub-buls.

Once the fruit ripens we have constant visits by a pair of Turacos. It is an absolute pleasure to be able to watch these birds at close proximity as they sort of hop from branch to branch seeking out the individual berries.

The following photos have been taken this year with one or two of the photos taken in the last few years. The tree is also used by all three Mannikins who visit our seed feeder and White-eyes that eat both the fruit and the insects attracted to the fruit.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. annette blom says:

    I just bought a Tassleberry tree from Skukuza nursery and wasn’t told about male and female trees. Wil my solitary tree bear fruit? An an impotant question is – can I plant it near to a wall? They said it doesn’t have aggressive root system. Thank you.

  2. Roger & Noreen Broomhall says:

    Thanks for sharing with us all , showing how important knowledge of trees is to complement our birding experiences Wonderful photos too

  3. Hi Herman and Jackie,
    I am from Cape Town and visiting and working in Durban for two months. I found the Palmiet Nature Reserve by mistake while looking for Jubilee Park, on Saturday. I found the Red Backed Mannikin ( which I had only seen once before in my life ) but failed to find the Magpie ( Lifer ).I also flushed the African Goshawk as I entered
    Some lovely photos you have taken. You are blessed to have this tree in your garden and live so close to the Reserve. .

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