Chionanthus peglerae

  • Giant Pock Ironwood /Bastard Black Ironwood / White Pock Ironwood (Fringe Trees)
  • Reusepokysterhout (Afr) 
  • isiZimane-esimhlope / iThintane-elimhlope (Zulu)


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.  A relatively rare species in the wild, very variable with regards to size, with a neatly rounded, somewhat spreading canopy of deep green leaves and a tall, smooth trunk. New leaves are beautiful, with hues of deep red, yellow and orange, and this tree is a wonderful, decorative addition to any garden. The name stems from the tiny hollows, or pock marks, that are found in the axils of leaves. These are structural attributes, and house what is believed to be symbiotic microbes.


A widespread, but uncommon resident of medium to high altitudes, where it is most often found growing on the margins of or in evergreen and coastal forests. Also found on the banks of mountain slopes, wooded grassland and ravines, as well as along the edges of rivers and streams, from the Eastern Cape through to Natal and Transkei.



  • Simple, oblong to broadly elliptic leaves that are arranged in opposite pairs, with measurements of approximately 80-130 x 30-65 mm. Rigidly leathery, with dark-green, glossy, upper surfaces and slightly paler, typically hairless undersides. The margins are entire and thickened, and the leaves tend to taper to the base, with narrowly blunted tips. Venation is distinct, often heavily depressed above, raised below with hairy pockets in axils of veins.


  • A large, thick-skinned, oval and fleshy drupe, up to 25 x 15mm long. Dark-purple, with a layer of scattered white dots, and a slight, blunt ridge running across its length. Contains a single seed. (November to May)


  • Whitish, silvery grey to grey brown, smooth and somewhat matt-textured, with pale, creamy-white dots often scattered along the bole and on branches. The main stem is lofty, straight and often branches quite high up, with a general diameter of about 400mm.


  • Small, sweetly-scented, creamy-white flowers, up to 6mm long, carried in loose, feathery, much branched sprays, each measuring about 50mm on the axils of leaves. The buds often develop as early as June, but will remain closed until flowering. (August to February)


HEIGHT: 4 – 30 m

SPREAD: 3- 7 m

TOLERANCE: Tolerant to periods of immense, dry heat, and high winds. Frost hardy, especially once properly established.

GROWTH RATE: Medium to fast, depending on habitat. An annual growth rate of just under a metre can be expected in favourable conditions.

LIGHTING REQUIREMENTS: Does well in full sun or semi-shade. If planted in a shady area, make sure the tree gets at least a few hours of strong morning or afternoon sun.

SOIL AND WATER REQUIREMENTS: Moderate water requirements, but more should be given during hot, dry summer months. Loamy or sandy soils are accepted, but for optimum growth, extra bone meal and compost can always be added when planting.

ADVANTAGES: The roots are non-invasive, so it is safe to pant the tree near paving’s, driveways, pools and other permanent structures, as well as gardens with restricted space. Tough and adaptable, it is perfectly suited for windy coastal gardens and can be easily pruned into a tough, dense hedge or screening plant, that will give privacy, shade and shelter throughout the year. A low maintenance, neatly spreading tree, with fragrant flowers and attractive fruit.

WARNINGS: The trees are known to be sensitive to attacks from spider mites and borer.

WILDLIFE: Vervet monkeys are known to be firm fans if the fruits, and various fruit-eating birds, as well as bats and smaller mammals will also be lured. The fragrant flowers attract honeybees, wasps, beetles and butterflies. Game occasionally brows the leaves, and many birds love to nest in amongst the dense, high spreading branches.

PROPAGATION: Readily and easily propagated from seeds, which germinate quite rapidly. Soak seeds in warm, but not boiling, water for 24 – 48 hours. Sow in a mixture of equal parts river sand and compost. Keep in a well-lit, warm area, and water often, keeping soil moist but not wet. Let the ground dry out between watering’s, to prevent damping off. When the seedling develops at least 2 true leaves, transplant into individual containers, with a similar mixture, and be very careful not to damage the long taproot, as this will hamper future progress.

PRACTICAL: The wood is pale brown, strong and heavy, and makes durable, good quality furniture, various household items, fencing poles and carvings.