Grewia occidentalis

Grewia occidentalis is also known as Four Corner, Crossberry, Kruisbessie, Mokukutu, Mogwane, iLalanyathi, umSipane, umNqabaza Mulembu, Nsihana, Grewia Caffra, or African Starfish. It is part of the Malvaceae family of plants. It is native to South Africa. Crossberry is a small tree or a shrub. It is hardy and deciduous. It has slender branches.

Grewia occidentalis can grow to about 3m or 10ft. The foliage is glossy dark green. They are alternate and simple. The leaves have three distinct veins from the stem. They are sometimes hairy with toothed edges. Also, remain horizontal to the sun. Farm animals and game graze on the leaves. Buff-tipped skipper also feeds on its leaves.

Grewia occidentalis
Grewia occidentalis

Grewia occidentalis flowers in the summer. The flowers are pinkish-purple and star-shaped. Grewia occidentalis flowers attract butterflies and bees.

Grewia occidentalis berries:

The flowers are followed by fleshy berries. They turn purple as they ripen. They are four-lobbed berries. The names Crossberry or Four Corner are due to these unique fruits. Fruits remain on the plants for a long period. Birds usually eat them when they ripen.

Grewia occidentalis
Crossberry or Grewia occidentalis

How to grow Crossberry:

For optimal growth, it is recommended to plant Crossberry or Grewia occidentalis in humus-rich soil that is well-drained. The soil should have good water-holding capacity while allowing excess water to drain away. Adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to the soil before planting can improve its fertility, moisture retention, and overall structure.

Crossberry is known for its tolerance to both frost and drought conditions, making it suitable for a range of climates. However, during extended periods of dry weather, it is essential to provide supplemental watering to help the plant maintain its vigor and ensure healthy growth.

One advantage of Crossberry is its non-aggressive root system, which means it is less likely to cause issues with surrounding plants or structures. This makes it a suitable choice for gardens where space is limited or where other plants are already established.

In terms of pruning, Grewia occidentalis does not require extensive pruning. However, light pruning can be performed to shape the plant and maintain a tidy appearance. Pruning should be carried out during the dormant season or after the flowering period to avoid disrupting the plant’s natural growth cycle.

Grewia occidentalis is generally a resilient and disease-resistant plant. However, it is important to monitor for potential pests such as whiteflies or red spider mites. Regularly inspect the plant’s foliage for any signs of infestation, and if detected, take appropriate measures to control and manage the pest population. This can include using organic insecticidal sprays or implementing natural pest control methods.

Grewia occidentalis

Propagating Grewia occidentalis:

Propagation of Grewia occidentalis can be done through seed. Collect ripe seeds from mature fruits and sow them in a well-prepared seedbed or individual pots. Ensure the seeds are covered lightly with a layer of soil and provide consistent moisture to facilitate germination. Once the seedlings have developed several leaves and are strong enough to handle, they can be transplanted to their permanent growing location.

By following these guidelines, you can successfully grow Grewia occidentalis, enjoying its attractive foliage, delicate flowers, and potential fruit production. This versatile plant adds beauty and interest to any garden while requiring minimal maintenance.

Crossberry as food:

Grewia occidentalis fruit is eaten fresh, locally. The ripe fruit is sometimes fermented for beer. Or it is mixed with goat’s milk to make yogurt. Crossberry also has medicinal use locally.

Grewia occidentalis
Beautiful flowers of Crossberry

Other synonyms include: Grewia chirindae, Grewia microphylla, Grewia obtusifolia, Grewia trinervis, Grewia ulmifolia

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