Kraussia floribunda

(Syn. Coffea kraussiana / Trichalysia floribunda)

  • Rhino-coffee
  • Renosterkoffie (A)
  • Wildekornoelie (A)
  • isiKhukhankobe (Z)
  • aMehlankosasane (Th)


  • A most pleasing, enchanting shrub or small evergreen tree, with numerous slender, smooth-textured, purplish-grey branches, lustrous, light green foliage and a sprawling or upright growth habit. These delightful, airy little trees often form part of the understorey vegetation in their natural forest homes and add a lovely woodland atmosphere to the garden. In the summer months, the trees become adorned with masses of sweet, buttery, tubular flowers that hang elegantly from in between the stems, and these are succeeded bunches of fleshy, dark imperial purple berries.

SA Tree

  • 700.1


  • 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


  • It occupies a variety of habitats, mainly in the eastern and summer rainfall parts of South Africa.

  • It can be found in the coastal grasslands and dune forests of Natal, parts of the Transvaal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Swaziland and Mozambique.

  • The Rhino-coffee is a common resident in a variety forest-like environments and their margins, including swamp forests, littoral and riverine woodlands and thickets, as well as bushveld areas.


  • This small tree has a typically upright growth habit and can be either single or multi-stemmed.

  • The stems are smooth textured and hairless, with a greyish-brown or somewhat mauve colouring.


  • Evergreen.

  • The leaves are simple, opposite and held in an erect fashion.

  • They are broadly elliptic, elliptic-oval or oblong-elliptic (40-110 x 15-40 mm), and mature from a glossy, pale to dark green.

  • The leaf tips are acutely tapered, and the bases are rounded to sharply decurrant, and merge with the leafstalks as they extend downwards.

  • On the undersides they are slightly paler, with prominent, raised and conspicuous venation and visible hairy domatia (pit-like pockets) in the axils of the lateral veins.

  • The venation is indented above, the leaves are glabrous.

  • The leafstalk (petiole) is short (2-5 mm), and has somewhat triangular, hairy stipules that tend to be shed quickly.


  • The flowers, which are rather small (8-10 mm diameter), creamy-white and somewhat funnel-shaped, with petals that curl sharply outwards and downwards, are produced in profusion.

  • They are bisexual, and are carried in flaccid, few-flowered, somewhat pendulous, branched dichasial cymes of 20–30 mm long.

  • These flower stalks are carried in clusters in the axils of the leaves.

  • October – January.


  • A semi-spherical, fleshy drupe (6-8 mm). It is crowned with the persistent lobes of the calyx and is dark purple to almost black in colour.

  • Each fruit contains 2-6 seeds.

  • January – July.


  • 2.5 – 6 m


  • 2 – 3 m



  • The flowers lure many insects, especially flies, as well as butterflies, bees, wasps and beetles.
  • The insects enticed by the flowers may in turn lure the occasional insectivorous bird species.
  • The tree’s main attraction is sweet tasting berry-like fruit, which is irresistible to fruit and seed eating birds, as well as monkeys and baboons.
  • Humans can also eat the fruits, and palatable preserves have been made from them.
  • The leaves are browsed by game, rhino and antelope.


  • A quaint, charming little tree that looks appealing all year round, with an abundance of buttery, petite and sweetly fragranced flowers in summer, and masses of attractive berries in winter.
  • It makes a striking specimen tree, and also looks good as part of the background foliage or mixed shrub border.
  • This is a good choice for game reserves, as the foliage is readily browsed by the game.
  • It does not have an invasive or aggressive root system, so it can safely be planted close to paving and other permanent structures.
  • Makes a good pot plant.
  • The growth is quite rapid, and it can easily be shaped into a screen or informal hedge.
  • It accepts a variety of soil types and qualities and will thrive even in a shady part of the garden.
  • A good, decorative choice for smaller gardens or areas with limited space.
  • The Rhino-coffee has a generally hardy disposition and is not susceptible to many pests or diseases.


  • Once they have been properly established, they are tolerant of mild to moderate frosts, but extended and very severely cold conditions may cause damage as they are a plant of mainly tropical areas.
  • In very cold areas, or for at least their first 3 seasons, plant them in a sheltered position, indoors, or against a north facing wall.
  • They are tolerant of a wide range of adverse soil conditions.

Growth Rate

  • A fast grower, especially if given a generous amount pf water and fertiliser in the active growing months, 300-600 mm per year.


  • These canopy plants can grow quite happily in semi-shady conditions but will produce the most flowers and fruits in full sun.

Soil & Water

  • Optimum development will occur in a nutrient rich, well-drained, loamy or peaty soil, but it will accept less favourable sandy or even clayish soils.
  • Clay soils are very moisture retentive, and if planting into a very clay soil, give the plants slightly less water.
  • Most plants are negatively affected by alkaline soils, but these small trees accept somewhat alkaline soils without much damage or complaint.
  • They have moderate water requirements and will benefit from frequent and generous amounts of water in summer.
  • In the winter months, water less often, and make sure that the soil has adequate drainage.
  • For optimal development and the general good health of the plant, it is recommended that it be fed at least once every season with a good quality fertiliser.


  • Easily propagated from seed or semi-hardwood cuttings taken in late spring or early summer.
  • Seed can be soaked in warm water overnight to help soften the hard-outer layer that may inhibit germination, or they can be scarified ((outer structure removed & seed coat then chipped).
  • Sow the seeds in seedling trays filled with a well-drained growing medium of equal parts sand and compost.
  • Cover the seeds with an additional, thin layer of this medium.
  • As the seeds are susceptible to damping off, it is advisable to treat them with a fungicide prior to sowing.
  • Place the trays in a temperate, bright area and mist the soil often.
  • Germination should occur within 3-4 weeks.
  • As soon as the seedlings have developed their first set of true leaves, they can be transplanted into individual containers.
  • Water them often but moderately, and feed once every few weeks with a small amount of liquid fertiliser.
  • If propagating from cuttings, take these from active growths on the tree in spring or very early summer.
  • Treat the cuttings with an application of rooting hormone to stimulate the development of healthy, robust roots.
  • Place these firmly in a loose medium of preferably milled bark and polystyrene.
  • Water them often and rooting should occur within 4-5 weeks.
  • When the roots have established, transplant the cuttings into a well-drained loamy medium.