Dais cotinifolia

Scientific name: Dais cotinifolia 

Common name: Dais, Kannabast

Family: Thymeliaceae


Dais cotinifolia   


Two Dais cotinifolia trees can be seen from the Visitor Centre viewing deck, both massed with flowers. A closer look is worth the journey to the African Section in the centre of the Rock Garden.

Could this tree also be known as the Cheering Tree, due to the use of pompons or pompoms being widely used by cheer groups of sporting teams? If you haven’t realised why it is commonly called the Pompom Tree, it is because each of the groups of flowers looks like a pompom.

Dais cotinifolia naturally occurs at the margins of evergreen forest, in riverine fringe forest and in bush on steep rocky mountainsides of south-eastern South Africa. The common name ‘Kannabast’ refers to the bark, which provides strong fibres that make an excellent quality rope and thread. The genus name is from the Greek word ‘dais’ meaning torch. Each individual flower appears to form a torch-like shape sitting on a platform formed by the bracts. These bracts are small scale-like modified leaves, which become woody and remain on the tree long after the flowers have fallen.

Dais cotinifolia prefers hot long summers with some rain and a cool dry almost arid winter. In these conditions it can grow up to 3-4 metres but does not usually flower until it reaches half its mature height. Although tolerant of several degrees of frost when mature, young plants need to be protected. This plant has been in cultivation in Europe since 1764. Rich, most, well-drained soil and summer watering will give best results. Propagation is by semi-hardwood cuttings or by seed sown in spring.