Loxostylis alata

  • Wild Pepper Tree (E)
  • Tarwood (E)
  • Tigerwood (E)
  • Teerhout (A)
  • Breekhout (A)
  • Tierhout (A)
  • Wilde Peperboom (A)
  • Isibara (Z, X)



  • The sole species of its genus, the Tarwood is a superbly beautiful, hardy, single or multi-stemmed, much branched, small to medium sized tree with a dense, spreading crown of light to dark green, shining, decorative foliage.
  • The tree is often seen with stunning, coral pink to yellow new leaves emerging from amongst the mass of glossy green foliage and is a truly spectacular sight in full bloom.
  • A watery, non-toxic latex is present is some parts of the tree, and the fruits contain a sticky, tar-like substance.
  • It bears a superficial resemblance to the invasive Brazilian Pepper tree.

Sa Tree

  • 365


  • Anacardiaceae (The Mango family)
  • A family of flowering plants belonging to the Sapindales order, commonly found in the warmer and temperate regions of the world, with somewhat 80 genera and 870 species of evergreen or deciduous trees, shrubs and woody vines.
  • Several members are of commercial importance, producing useful, edible fruits, such as the Mango, Cashew and Pistachio trees, and many produce a watery or milky latex, which has been known to cause skin irritation or be toxic, such as the Poison Ivy from America.
  • Members usually have minuscule flowers, male & female borne on separate trees, and fruits that are fleshy, often edible, drupes. The leaves are typically compound, comprising of several smaller leaflets in various formations.


  • Found mostly in the Eastern Cape and sandstone forests in Transkei, less often Natal, and areas adjoining the Karoo.
  • The trees seem to prefer rocky outcrops and cliffs of sandstone and quartzite but are also found along forest margins and river and stream banks.


  • Light to dark grey, thick and corky, with rather shallow, longitudinal fissures and a slightly flaking texture.
  • The main stem is typically much branched, with a diameter of 200 -300 mm.
  • Branchlets can be seen with prominent leaf scars, and a watery latex is present.


  • Evergreen.

  • Compound (65-200 mm), alternately or spirally arranged, drooping leaves.
  • Each major leaf has 2-5 pairs of leaflets (15-60 x 5-25 mm), plus a terminal, unpaired one, and a conspicuously winged rachis.
  • The leaflets are narrowly elliptic, slender, with narrowly rounded, sharp, almost hair-like tips and entire, rolled under margins.
  • The new leaves are red, changing to yellow and then finally dark, glossy green.
  • The leaflets are stalkless, with a tough, leathery texture, and hairless.
  • The main petiole is ridged, not winged, and measures between 1 & 2.5 cm.


  • Dense, branched flowerheads (200-300 mm), carried at the ends of branchlets.
  • Male and female flowers are carried on separate trees but are both small and creamy-white at first, although the female blooms tend to have a slightly greenish tinge.
  • The petals are small and narrow, giving the flowers a star-like shape.
  • As soon as the fruit starts to develop on the female tree, the sepals of the flower calyx enlarge and become bright pink-red, covering the developing fruit.
  • The male flowers will turn a light coral pink. (October – February).


  • A fleshy, globose, rather smallish fruit (3-4 mm), embedded in the persistent, bright, dark red sepals of the female flower.
  • Contains several pale brown, ovoid seeds.
  • The skin of the fruit contains a sticky, black, tar-like substance. (January- April).


  • 3-8 m


  • 2-4 m


  • The bark and leaves are used in traditional medicine, although not many uses seem to have been recorded.
  • Concoctions and infusions of these parts are said to ease pain during childbirth, and also strengthens the immune system.
  • Extracts of the leaves have shown potential as an antifungal agent that could protect poultry from diseases such as Avian aspergillosis caused by the Aspergillus fumigatus fungus.


  • There are very little to no records of the usage of the timber for practical purposes, as the quality is not very good.
  • The oily residue from the fruits is reported to have been used as a wagon grease by the early pioneers.


  • The masses of sweetly scented flowers attract butterflies, carpenter and honey bees, and a multitude of insect life.
  • Seed eating birds will eat the fruits, and insectivorous birds will be attracted by the array of insects.


  • With its beautiful, changing foliage colours, general hardy nature, neat and not overly large growth habit, it is perfectly suited for small, difficult and coastal gardens.
  • It makes an attractive, sturdy windbreak, screen or shade tree, and is relatively low-maintenance.
  • It does not have an aggressive root-system, and can tolerate shady areas, so it its suited for container planting or large patios.
  • It is water-wise and highly ornamental, and will make an excellent addition to public spaces, parks, schools, parking lots and can also be planted near driveways.
  • Makes a lovely, eye-catching focal or accent specimen.


  • A wonderfully hardy tree, able to withstand the onslaught of strong, salt-laden coastal winds, and tolerant of most soil types.
  • Once established, the trees can withstand drought, but to encourage healthy and rapid initial development, water very well for at least the first 3-4 years.
  • Young plants should be sheltered against very cold conditions, but once established, they can endure moderate frosts.

Growth Rate

  • Moderate to fast growing tree, depending on the habitat.


  • Full sun or partial, canopy shade. (Morning sun – 6 hours minimum, or afternoon sun).

Soil & Water

  • The trees are able to grow in a variety of soil types, but prefer loamy or sandy, well-drained soils, with a slightly acidic ph.
  • If the soil in your garden is very poor or sandy, a little added compost will greatly benefit development.
  • A very water-wise species, with low to moderate water needs.


  • Easily propagated from seeds, which germinate readily.
  • Sow the seeds in a mixture of fine river and compost (2:1), and place in a bright (not direct sunlight), temperate area.
  • Mist or water the soil often but be careful to not let it become waterlogged.
  • The seeds can be treated with a pre-emergence fungicide to prevent damping off.
  • Germination should occur within 4-6 weeks.
  • Once the seedlings have reached the first two-leaf stage, they can be transplanted into bigger containers, but care should be taken to not damage the root-ball, as this will severely stunt growth or even kill the plant.