Kei Apple plants (Dovyalis caffra) are evergreen shrubs or small trees that produce thorny or spiny branches. Native to Southwest Africa, they can grow up to 5-20 feet tall and wide and are salt tolerant, making them suitable for coastal gardens and seaside plantings. They are also often used as impenetrable hedges to keep unwanted animals away.
Kei Apples produce yellow and orange flowers that attract pollinators and fruits high in dietary fiber and antioxidants. The fruits have a slightly acidic flavor and can be eaten fresh or used in desserts. They are often sprinkled with sugar. The plant can yield up to two hundred fruits per season.
The plant is hardy to at least 30°F, but young plants should be kept healthy and nourished in the winter. When grown in cold areas, the plant does well in a pot and must be brought indoors before temperatures drop below freezing. It should be planted in well-draining soil with plenty of organic matter and provided with full sun. Regular watering is required, and moderate water is needed in periods of warmth.
The plant can form allelopathic relationships, inhibiting the growth of other plants nearby. For the most part, both male and female plants are required for fruit set, although there are some female trees that can bear fruit without a male.
In conclusion, Kei Apples are a versatile and useful plant that can provide edible fruits, form impenetrable hedges, and thrive in coastal areas. With proper care and maintenance, they can be a valuable addition to any garden or landscape.