Searsia lancea

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Rhus lancea, foliage detail.jpg
Foliage detail
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Eudicots
Clade: Rosids
Order: Sapindales
Family: Anacardiaceae
Genus: Searsia
S. lancea
Binomial name
Searsia lancea
  • Rhus lancea L.f.
  • Toxicodendron lanceum (L.f.) Kuntze
A cluster of karees in Germiston, Gauteng

Searsia lancea commonly known as karee (archaicly karree), is an evergreen, frost hardy, drought resistant tree, which can reach up to 8 metres in height with a 5-metre spread. In North America, where it is naturalized, it is known as African sumac and willow rhus.[2] It is one of the most common trees on the Highveld and in the Bushveld in South Africa, but not found in the Lowveld.

Common Names[edit]

S. lancea bares many names by locals in South Africa. By far the most common name for this tree is karee which derives from the Khoemana word !xareb (Compare Khoekhoegowab cognate |garas).[3] This is mostly used by speakers of Afrikaans. Another Afrikaans name names known is Rosyntjiebos from rosyn (raisin) and bos (bush).[4]

In the Sotho–Tswana languages, the names mosilabele in Southern Sotho, 'mokalabata' in Northern Sotho and mosabele in Tswana are cognates.[5] In Khelobedu, the names is motshakhutshakhu and mushakaladza in Venda.[6]

Among Nguni languages the name umhlakotshane in Zulu and Xhosa is used and in Swati the name given is inhlangutshane[7]

Description and uses[edit]

The small yellow flowers of a female tree

The tree is dioecious.[8] It has a graceful, weeping form and dark, fissured bark that contrasts well with its long, thinnish, hairless, dark-green, trifoliate leaves with smooth margins. It bears small yellow flowers followed on female trees by bunches of small yellow-green flattish fruits, which are relished by birds. In earlier times the fruits were pounded, water added and left to ferment, producing an evidently refreshing beer. The tree is a good shade tree for gardens, parks and pavements. It favours areas rich in lime in the Karoo and Namibia.


  1. ^ The Plant List: A Working List of All Plant Species, retrieved 28 April 2016
  2. ^ USDA, NRCS (n.d.). "Rhus lancea". The PLANTS Database ( Greensboro, North Carolina: National Plant Data Team. Retrieved 21 October 2015.
  3. ^
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  8. ^ "Searsia lancea". Retrieved 2021-08-26.