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The Largest Selection of Indigenous Species in any Nursery in KZN.

Trees, Shrubs, Aloes, Grasses and Ground Covers.

Chionanthus foveolatus – Pock Ironwood

BOTANICAL: Chionanthus foveolatus
COMMON NAME: Pock Ironwood / Bastard Ironwood
OTHER NAMES: Pokysterhout (Afr); iDlabetaga (Zulu); Umdlebe (Xhosa) Musiri (Venda)


FAMILY: Oleaceae (Olive family) Belonging to the order Lamiales, with somewhat 24 genera and 615 species. These plants are native to temperate, forested regions, favouring in particular tropical Asia, but can be found worldwide, except for the Arctic, and can be trees, shrubs or woody climbers. Members of this family are prized for either their economical or aesthetic importance. The most eminent member of this family, and the namesake, is undoubtedly the Olive tree (Olea europaea), valued for its fruit and oil since ancient times. Other members include the Ash trees (Fraxinus excelsior), and the Jasmines (Jasminum). Xhosa); Musiri (Venda)


A very hardy and attractive member of the Olive family, bearing similar, fleshy, purplish-black fruit. Extremely variable with regards to size and appearance, depending on habitat. A graceful tree, with a tall, slender, silvery-grey trunk and multi-branched crown.

  • HABITAT: Occurring mostly in evergreen forest, and wooded ravines, from coast to mountains, in medium to high altitudes (sea level to 2000m above)


  • BARK: Light to dark-grey, finely scaled, with short, hairless branchlets that curve upwards. Young trees often have irregular, corky patches.

  • FOLIAGE: Opposite, simple, usually twice as long as wide. (5-6 x 1.5 – 3.5 cm) Stiff, with a leathery texture, glossy green above, paler below, often with minute scales. The margin is thickened and entire, the leaves are hairless, narrow and tapering to a blunt tip. Raised midrib, with hairy pockets in axils of veins. The young leaves have a round to heart shaped base.

  • FLOWERS: Small, densely compressed sprays of white to cream coloured flowers, often tinged with pink. Sweetly-scented, with hood-shaped petal tips, (5-7 mm). September – May. Growing from leaf axils or on old wood.

  • FRUIT: A fleshy, thick-skinned oval drupe, green, ripening to purple-black. (15 x 6 mm) – November- July.

  • SEED: One seed per fruit. Small, brown. (3-5 mm)


  • HEIGHT: 5 – 30 m (Wild) 5 – 10 m (Cultivation)

  • SPREAD: 3 – 6 m

  • TOLERANCE: Adapts easily, especially if grown from seed. Tolerates high winds, extreme heat and low-water conditions.

  • GROWTH RATE: Average.

  • LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS: Grows equally well in full sun or shade.

  • SOIL AND WATER REQUIREMENTS: Can tolerate a wide range of conditions, but will flourish with regular watering and compost enriched soil. Generally undemanding tree.

  • ADVANTAGES: Perfect when planted as a windbreak or hedge. Low maintenance, neat. Ideal for gardens with limited space, as the roots are non-aggressive, as well as challenging coastal and water-wise gardens.

  • WARNINGS: When transplanting, be careful not to damage the long taproot, as this will negatively impact future growth. Also, the trees are known to be plagued by spider mites and scale.

  • WILDLIFE: The flowers attract bees and insects, which will in turn lure certain insectivorous birds, while the fruit is eaten by bush pigs, bats and monkeys.

  • PROPAGATION: Easily propagated from seeds, which germinate readily. Soak seeds in hot water for 24 – 48 hours. Plant 1 – 2 cm deep, in mixture of river sand and compost (2:3) Keep in a well-lit, warm area, and water often, keeping soil moist but not wet. Let the ground dry out between watering’s.

  • PRACTICAL: The wood is pale brown, heavy and strong. Makes fine furniture, carvings and household items.

  • ADDITIONAL FACTS: The name stems from the miniscule, white pock marks that dot the central veins of leaves. Inside these cavities are symbiotic microbes that assist the leaves with self-cleansing and disease protection.

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