Attractive for large gardens. International medicinal value – France and Italy.
This is a medium to large (10 - 20 m) handsome, evergreen tree with a spreading crown. It can become huge under frost-free conditions, but is usually medium-sized in gardens. The main stem is straight, with dark brown bark, cracking in a characteristic oblong pattern. The white flowers are scented, small, and borne singly or in sprays up to 70 mm long in October to May. The fruit is spherical, dull purplish brown, about 10 mm in diameter, in branched bunches (Sept. to Nov.). The bark is exploited in Africa on a large scale for its medicinal value. In South Africa the bark is used to treat chest pains. The bark extracts have become popular in Europe for the treatment of benign prostate hypertrophy. It is also reputed to be very poisonous and to have magical properties. The close-grained, reddish brown wood is occasionally used for furniture, although it does not season well and splits and twists, so its use is limited. The growth is rapid, up to a metre per year if the climate is temperate and the rainfall is good. It a very good tree to attract birds and butterflies. This is a protected plant in South Africa.