082 775 1224 / kerryn@cjmgrowers.co.za

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

Trees, Shrubs, Aloes, Grasses and Ground Covers.

Gardenia thunbergia

SA TREE NO: 692

One of the most widely cultivated of the Gardenia’s, this species normally grows as a small, stout tree or large shrub, with a typically spreading, multi-branched, robust shape and angular crown. Renowned for its exceptionally handsome, fragrant flowers and decorative fruits.

White Gardenia • Wild Gardenia • Forest Gardenia • Wit Katjiepiering • Wilde Katjiepiering • Buffelsbal • Kannetjieboom • Stompdoring (A) • umValasanweni (Z) • umKhangazi (X)

Family

  • Rubiaceae (Gardenia family)

  • A large, global family, belonging to the order Rubiales, mainly occurring in warmer, tropical and temperate zones of the world, comprising of somewhat 660 genera and over 11 000 species. Members are mostly trees, shrubs and herbs, and many are renowned for their exceptionally beautiful and fragrant flowers, while others are prized economically for producing, amongst others, the coffee of commerce, Coffea arabica, from Ethiopia. Members have leaves that are either opposite or in whorls, with clear ridges on the stems between them, usually bearing distinctive stipules, and entire, unbroken margins. Flowers are borne singly, or in small, clustered groups, and fruits are typically crowned by the persistent remains of the calyx

Habitat

  • Nearly all Gardenia species are restricted to the warmer parts of the country, from the Eastern Cape to Natal and Transkei, rarely further north. They can be found growing in and on the margins of coastal, evergreen, swamp or riverine fringe forests, occasionally in woodland or bushveld, from the coast to the midlands in Natal, preferring high rainfall areas.

Bark

  • Pale-grey to whitish, smooth, with a main stem that is usually straight, and stout, measuring 200-300mm in diameter. Branches are firm, and rather short.

Foliage

  • Evergreen

  • Decorative, elliptic to obovate, rounded in the middle with an abruptly tapering and pointed tip. Grouped together in whorls of 3-4 at the end of short, lateral twigs. Dark-green and waxy on both surfaces, hairless, 76-150 x 38-100 mm, with distinctive midribs and venation. The margins are entire and wavy, with swollen lumps in the axils of veins. The petiole is up to 25 mm long.

Flowers

  • Large (up to 7cm in diameter, with similar length), solitary and heavily scented, especially towards dusk. Pure white, fading to light cream in colour, produced in profusion from October to February. The long, slender buds look like a furled umbrella and the flower opens to a starry face at the end of a long tube. (50-70mm)

Fruit

  • Large, woody, oval fruits, pale, grey-green in colour, with many, small, raised white dots scattered over the surface. Measuring 70 x 35, and up to 120 mm long, the hard, egg-shaped pods are heavily fibrous within, and contain numerous seeds, embedded in a stringy matrix. If not eaten or damaged, they often remain on the tree for many months.

 

Height

  • 2-5 m, occasionally reaching 3m

Spread

  • 1.5 – 3 m

Tolerance

  • Mature, established trees are able to endure periods of mild frost, but young plants should be protected. Moderately drought tolerant, but excessive amounts can hamper future development, especially of the flowers.

Growth Rate

  • Quite slow-growing, but remarkably long-lived.

Lighting Requirements

  • Full sun or semi-shade, but the tree needs a fair amount of sun exposure every day, being in the mornings or afternoon.

Soil & Water Needs

  • Grows best a mildly acidic, well-drained, sandy or loamy soil, with consistent, deep watering’s. For extra luxuriant growth, organic compost and bone meal can always be added to the soil, and a layer of mulch spread around the tree will assist with moisture retention during dry, hot spells.

Advantages

  • It makes a good bonsai subject, and looks very striking when planted as a single specimen or focal point on a large, open lawn. It can be easily trained to form a dense, strong hedge, and makes a sturdy screening plant and windbreak. The trees are very popular as garden ornamentals, suited to small gardens and large containers, and the beautiful flowers permeate the entire garden with their strong perfume.

Wildlife

  • The prominent flowers are visited by moths, and the fruits are usually eaten by elephants and larger antelope.

Propagation

  • Grown from seed or truncheons. Seeds will have to be harvested and extracted from the hard fruits, which is a mission in itself. Sow the seeds in spring or early summer, as germination will take between 6-8 weeks, and the seedlings are sensitive to cold. A well-drained, fertile mixture of river sand and compost should be used, (2:1) and the soil should be kept damp but not overly wet. Place in a bright area, but not in direct sunlight. If propagating from cuttings, take stout, actively growing twigs, preferably with a few fresh leaves still on it, and place firmly in the same mixture, and mist often.

Medicinal

  • A preparation of the powdered root bark is used, mainly as an emetic, to treat various gastric complaints, biliousness, fever gall bladder problems. Roots and leaves are used against syphilis and skin diseases.

Practical

  • The pale, yellowish wood is very hard, tough and oddly, quite elastic. It makes for a very good quality timber, but due to the fact that the pieces obtainable are often small, its use is somewhat limited. Tool handles and small objects are mainly made from it.

Additional Facts

  • This species of South African Gardenia was one of the first to be discovered and collected by early European botanists, and specimens were introduced to Kew, England nearly 200 years ago.

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