Bridelia micrantha

  • Mitzeerie
  • Coastal Goldenleaf
  • Mitserie (A)
  • Bruin Stinkhout (A)
  • umShonge (Z)
  • umHlahlamakhwaba (X)
  • motsere (S)


  • A lovely shade tree, with a densely spreading crown of large, attractive leaves that transform into dazzling shades of orange, red, yellow and purple towards the autumn months, followed by a delightful show of brilliant russet-gold spring leaves. The leaves have a prominent and characteristic “herringbone” pattern created by the pale-beige veins and are beautifully symmetrically arranged on the dotted stems. The bole is typically bare and tall, delicately flaking with a pastel grey-brown colour and can often be observed with small blunt spines at bottom of trunks or on branches. The flowers are petite, pretty, buttery-yellow and are followed by sweetly flavoured, currant-like fruits that ripen to a deep purple-black and are loved by birds. B. micrantha bears a striking superficial resemblance to the Tassel-berry (Antidesma venosum), but the latter does not have the distinct “herringbone” pattern on the leaves and they are much thicker and more hairy.

SA Tree

  • 324


  • Phyllanthaceae
  • A family of flowering plants in the order of Malpighiales, with somewhat 1700 species and over 59 genera.

  • Members are most abundant and prevalent in temperate, tropical and subtropical zones, and are best represented in the southern hemisphere, where they favour vegetation types such as rainforests, savannah and accompanying ecosystems.

  • Nearly all the affiliates of this family are trees, shrubs or herbs, with a few climbers and succulents being recognised.

  • The family was previously associated with the Euphorbiaceae family, but, only a few yield a resinous exudate, and none have latex, unlike many members of Euphorbiaceae.

  • Members usually possess finely cracking bark, simple and alternate, glandless leaves with entire margins and conspicuous petioles.

  • The flowers are carried in the leaf axils, and fruits are either a drupe or berry, with 2 seeds in each chamber.

  • Armaments are rare.



  • This species occurs in a variety of habitats and climatic conditions but seems to frequent moist areas.
  • It can be found in the coastal Lowland forests of Natal, as well as riverine, swamp and mangrove forests.
  • It often also grows along the edges of the various forest types, coastal and further inland to elevations of just under 2000 m.
  • B.micrantha sometimes grows in open woodland areas, on rocky and granite outcrops, near termitaria, in savannah situations and on seasonally flooded grasslands.
  • From the Eastern Cape, Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, northern Gauteng, Mozambique and upwards into tropical Africa.


  • The main stem is typically short and gnarled in appearance but can also be straight and buttressed, with a diameter of 400-1000 mm.

  • Younger trees have rather smooth, very finely reticulately fissured, pale, silvery-grey to grey-brown bark, which turns darker and roughens in texture as the trees mature.

  • New branches are often covered with raised, light brown lenticels or small spines, which eventually become blunted but can often still be seen on older branches.

  • These small blunt spines can sometimes be observed near the bottom of the trunk.

  • The twigs are very finely hairy or completely hairless.


  • Deciduous.

  • The leaves are rather large (60-100 x 30-50 mm), simple, elliptic-oblong to obovate and are arranged alternately in two opposite, symmetrical vertical rows along the stems.

  • They are glossy, dark green above, paler green below, smooth or very finely hairy, especially on the under surfaces.

  • The lateral venation is distinct below, often pale yellow in colour, and these veins run all the way to, and terminate at, the slightly undulating, smooth or sometimes very faintly scalloped margin.

  • There are 5-20 pairs of pinnate, crosswise veins and these forms a distinct “herringbone” pattern on the leaf surface.

  • The petiole is rather thickset, short (5-15 mm), and finely hirsute.

  • The leaf tip is attenuate, and the base is broadly rounded.


  • The flowers are small, yellow, and grow in tightly packed fascicles from the leaf axils.

  • They are unisexual but occur on the same tree.

  • Each flower typically has somewhat triangular sepals and diminutive petals.

  • Male flowers have somewhat rudimentary ovaries and stamens and filaments that are blended together into a basal column but still spread out freely above.

  • Female flowers have basally fused ovaries and styles and are almost directly attached to the stems without a noticeable stalk or peduncle.

  • Flowering typically occurs during the dry season.

  • August-December.


  • The fruits are small, ovoid and fleshy drupes (8-12 x 10-13 mm). they ripen from green to black and each contain one, brownish seed.

  • January – April.


  • 5 – 15 m/ 20


  • 2- 5 m


  • The roots leaves and bark of this tree are said to possess a variety of medicinal benefits and have been used in folk medicine for many years to provide relief from a great many ailments and diseases.
  • Extracts have been used as antidotes, laxatives, purgatives, vermifuges and to treat adverse conditions of the central nervous system such as headaches, as well as eye infections, conjunctivitis, abdominal pains, ulcers, constipation, dysentery, intestinal worms, diarrhoea, rheumatism, painful joints and various respiratory ailments.
  • Topically, extracts are said to treat scabies, sores, burns and wounds.
  • A hygienic mouthwash is also made form a concoction of the bark and leaves and this mixture may be held in the mouth to relieve sore gums, toothache and coughs.
  • Various tannins and saponosides were isolated from the bark and these displayed antibacterial and anti-inflammatory activity.
  • Methanolic bark extracts showed in-vitro inhibition of a wide range of gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria in tropical Africa the inner bark is used in the preparation of an arrow poison.


  • These trees yield beautiful, naturally lustrous timber.
  • It has a fine, straight or interlocked grain, pale, greyish or whitish-yellow sapwood and dark reddish-brown heartwood.
  • The wood is very hard, heavy, bug resistant and durable, even when in contact with water and soil, works well and takes a beautiful finish.
  • It has many uses, including construction, carpentry, boat building and furniture making.
  • It is suitable to use for making fence posts, floor panels, mortars, household utensils, hunting and fishing equipment, toys, ornaments, carvings and much more.
  • When burnt, it is said to give off an intense heat, which makes it popular as a firewood and for making charcoal.
  • The leaves, fruits, bark and stems each yield a natural, red or black dye.
  • The bark is made into a pulp which is said to have quite strong adhesive properties, a resin-like substance is derived from it and this is used to fill cracks in various objects.
  • The foliage provides food for the African silk-worm.


  • These trees have an extensive and rather aggressively spreading root system, so they should be planted well away from paving and any other permanent structure to prevent future damages.
  • Despite it many medicinal benefits and uses, there are compounds within the tree that have displayed cytotoxicity to human cells, and caution should be taken before using these extracts.
  • In many African countries, these trees are facing sever over-exploitation and protective measures or domestication needs to be considered to halt a further decline in their numbers.


  • The flowers attract bees, butterflies and other insects and the trees are the larval food plant for several butterfly species, as well as the African silk-worm.
  • The caterpillars and insects lured by the trees will in turn attract insectivorous bird species.
  • The sweetish fruits are loved and eaten by birds and sometimes people, as well as monkeys and smaller mammals such as rodents and civets.
  • The foliage and sometimes the bark is eaten by Black rhino and domestic cattle.


  • A fast-growing tree with a dense, spreading crown in maturity, providing deep, cool shade in large gardens, on farms and in public parks.
  • A natural pioneer species, able to adapt to a wide range of soil types and different rainfall regimes.
  • The ideal tree to attract butterflies and birds to the garden.
  • It can be trained into an effective and sturdy hedge and is recommended for areas where waterlogging or flooding is a problem.
  • Marvellous when planted as a single specimen, providing a striking foliage display in autumn when the leaves turn yellow, orange and purple and an equally glorious show in spring with a flush of new, lustrous coppery leaves.
  • It is a useful tree in areas where the soil has been disturbed, as its extensive root system is able to bind the soil very effectively and help prevent future erosion.


  • These trees grow best in rather warm areas where daytime temperatures are between 15 & 30°c and the annual rainfall is quite high.
  • Once established, they can withstand light to moderate frosts only, as they are a mainly tropical area species, and may be damaged by extended and extreme cold.
  • If planting in a cold area, protect the plants very well for at least the first 4-5 years of their life, after which they can be planted in a sheltered courtyard, behind other thick vegetation or against a sunny, north facing wall.
  • They are water loving trees, and do not responds well to excessively dry conditions but can tolerate short or seasonal dry spells.
  • Mitzeeri is however a pioneer species that can adapt quite well to a variety of environments if given ample shelter, food and water in its early years.
  • They are tolerant of very wet, waterlogged soils and seasonal flooding,

Growth Rate

  • Under ideal conditions, this is a remarkably fast-growing tree – able to grow from 1.5 – 2 m per year.
  • First flowering can be expected at 3 years.


  • Full sun.

Soil & Water

  • A natural pioneer species, tolerant of a wide range of soil types and qualities.
  • They can withstand heavy, moisture retentive clay soils, as well as very sandy, loose growing mediums.
  • Optimum growth will occur in a nutrient rich, loam or peat, with a slightly acidic ph.
  • They will benefit from a seasonal sprinkling of a good quality fertiliser or some added bone meal.
  • This species of Bridelia is very water-loving and languished under dry conditions.
  • A layer of mulch can be strewn around the plant during dry and hot periods to help the soil retain moisture.
  • Water very well, especially in summer and when freshly transplanted.


  • Easily grown from seed, which must be sown when fresh as they lose viability very quickly.
  • It is recommended that the fleshy pulp be removed prior to sowing, as this is a natural growth inhibitor.
  • This can be done by soaking the seeds in water for at least 24 hours.
  • Sow the seeds in spring, into seedling trays filled with a mixture of washed river sand and compost (2:1).
  • Place the trays in a well-lit, warm, temperate area and keep the soil moist by misting it often.
  • Germination is generally fair and even, occurring within 3-4 weeks.
  • The seedlings transplant well and this can be done once they have developed at least 2 proper leaves.