• Powder-puff tree (E)

  • Poeierkwasboom (A)

  • iBhoqo (Z)


  • 524


  • Lecythidaceae


  • This is a small to medium size tree, growing to 4 – 8m in height. It has a rounded crown with many branches, and dark green foliage. The Barringtonia racemosa is fast growing and evergreen. Please note that it is not frost resistant at all. The trunk is straight, with the bark being smooth, greyish brown and mottled with white.


  • The leaves are alternate, large, leathery, and clustered at the end of branches. The midrib is purple at the base. During Winter the leaves turn orange in colour.


  • The flowers appear as very attractive, hanging sprays approximately 60cm in length, with a mass of stamens. These appear from late Summer and through Autumn. They are white and can be tinged with pink. They have a pungent scent. The buds are shiny and pinkish red in colour. They open at night and fade in the morning.


  • The fruit is yellowish brown in colour, round, hard, fibrous, and approximately 40mm in diameter. It is buoyant and dispersed by water. They appear between July and October.


  • The Zulu nation uses the fruit as a treatment for malaria.

  • Powdered bark is used as a traditional poison for fishing. It contains Saponin which stuns the fish.

  • Bark extracts are used as insecticides.


  • This tree attracts butterflies and is a larval food plant for some species of butterfly.


  • The Barringtonia racemosa is usually found in or near water i.e. in the Coastal swamp forests and along estuaries. Humid and moist conditions are required. In South Africa this tree is found in KwaZulu Natal.