Main site sections:
Plants section links:

Location

  • San Diego Zoo

Bloom time (approximate):

  • Spring

Plants: Species

African Pear Tree Dombeya spectabilis

FAMILY: BYTTNERIACEAE

When is a pear not a pear? When it's an African pear tree. The tree received its common name because its white blossoms are similar to those of a pear tree's. But the Dombeya spectabilis is no pear. In its native habitat in southern African, the tree is called "um-Bikanyak," which is Swazi for "the tree that heralds the new season," because it blooms there in early spring.


Like us, the Swazis must have considered spring their season for romance, because they used to mix the Dombeya tree's gorgeous flowers with honey, dove hearts, and other ingredients to make love potions. They also used the tree's bark fiber for ropes and its wood for timber. The San Diego Zoo's African pear (an especially large and magnificent specimen for North America) usually begins blooming in May.