Pavetta revoluta

  • Dune Bride’s Bush
  • Duinebruidsbos (A)
  • umHlabambazo (Z)
  • umCilikishe (X)


  • A shrubby evergreen bush or small, stately tree that typically grows very close to the sea, and seldom far from it. It produces numerous lanky yet delicate, smooth and pastel grey to pale brown, finely fissured branches that often grow at perfect right angles along the main stem, but it can also be lofty and single stemmed. The broadly elliptic, evergreen, lustrously thick and glossy, almost semi-succulent leaves form a dense crown and bear the distinct dark dotty or streaky bacterial nodules typical to the Pavetta genus. Towards the winter months, these charming trees light up with a joyous display of striking yet delicately shaped snowy flowers that seem to glow against the dark foliage when viewed from afar and often cover the entire tree.

SA Tree

  • 720


  • Rubiaceae (Gardenia and Coffee 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


  • This species of Pavetta is very much a coastal species, and its reach does not extend very far inland. Its main distribution is along the south eastern coast, where it grows in coastal dune forests and thickets.

  • Dwarf forms can often be encountered very close to the shore.

  • Natal, Transkei, Eastern Cape and southern Mozambique.


  • Single or multi-stemmed, with branches that grow in a distinctly decussate habit.

  • The branches are smooth textured when young, and a very light whitish grey or pale yellowish- brown.

  • As the tree matures, the bark flakes and peels very lightly to give it a slightly roughened appearance and the bark colour deepens slightly, becoming buff grey-brown.


  • Evergreen.

  • The leaves are simple and oppositely arranged, each pair at right angles to the ones above and below.
  • Lanceolate to narrowly elliptic obovate, with the more pointed end at the base of the leaf (25-80 x 16-45 mm), with a broadly tapering or rounded apex.
  • They are hairless on both surfaces and have a thickly leather texture. above, the leaves are shiny and dark green, while below they are paler with 3-4 pairs of lateral veins.
  • The margins are entire and firmly rolled under.
  • On the lower leaf surface, most often close to the midrib and in the axils of the lateral veins, hairy, pit-like cavities or pockets (domatia) can be observed.
  • A number of scattered dark spots, known as bacterial nodules, can be seen across the leaf surface.
  • They are mostly small and dot-shaped (round) but the ones occurring close to the veins and midrib are slightly elongated or elliptic in shape.
  • The leafstalk is 5-10 mm long.


  • Numerous white, somewhat tubular flowers are arranged in compact and much-branched, umbrella-like flower clusters (60-80 mm across).

  • These flowerheads typically grow at the ends of side twigs or from the axils of leaves.

  • Each inflorescence is carried on a supporting branch (16-85 mm) with up to 5 leaf nodes.

  • The corolla tube of each individual flower is 10-20 mm long x 10-15 mm wide, and the calyx has broad, pointed, deltoid and somewhat sharp-tipped lobes the same length as the calyx tube (0.6–0.8 mm).

  • The stamens, which are attached to the throat part of the flowers, change from creamy or ivory coloured to black, and develop a distinct twist as they mature.

  • At the tips they are somewhat club-shaped, thick and green.

  • November – March.


  • Bunches of fleshy, spherical, glossy drupes 98-10 mm diameter) follow soon after the flowers.

  • These fruits are initially a rather dull green and ripen to a deep grey-brown or black.

  • Each berry-like fruit is crowned with small, almost triangular projections of the persistent calyx lobes and contain 1-2 hard seeds.

  • March – August.


  • 3-10 m


  • 2-4 m


  • Not much information is available on the traditional medicinal uses of the plants, but certain African cultures use extracts of different parts to treat rheumatism and to expel internal parasites.


  • The fragranced flowers, which are produced in abundance, attract moths, bees, wasps, beetles and butterflies.
  • These insects may attract certain species of insectivorous birds and other predators.
  • The bunches of fleshy fruits are a big attraction to fruit and seed eating birds, as well as monkeys.


  • A resilient, neatly spreading shrub or small tree with an elegant growth habit.
  • Even though it tends to grow in a sprawling, shrubby manner, there are various reports of even small trees being single stemmed and upright.
  • These trees are a perfect choice for bird and wildlife attracting gardens, whether big or small.
  • They are not aggressive growers and have non-invasive roots, so they can be planted in confined spaces or close to walls and paving.
  • Their evergreen natures mean they will not be overly messy and will remain a pleasing, fresh sight throughout the year.
  • In a wild garden, they add a lovely tropical atmosphere.
  • Pavetta provides light, dappled or deep shade throughput the seasons.
  • It makes a striking container specimen and will respond well to pruning and training.
  • Planted as a single specimen, these trees are a delight to behold in spring when they become wreathed in clouds of white.
  • They also make beautiful additions to a mixed shrub border and make good filler or background foliage trees.
  • Very useful in a coastal garden, makes a fine hedge if kept trimmed down and planted in groves.
  • A most enchanting and decorative garden subject.


  • These trees can withstand salt laden coastal winds, and the sandy, slightly brackish soils that are often predominant in these parts.
  • They are a species of mainly warm, almost tropical areas, and are rather frost tender.
  • Young plants should be given adequate shelter against low temperatures and cold winds for at least their first 4 seasons.
  • In colder gardens, plant them indoors, in the wake of larger trees or against a high wall.
  • Even though they thrive in areas of moderate to high rainfall, they are a relatively water-wise species, and can tolerate the occasional season drought.

Growth Rate

  • This species of Pavetta has a slightly slower growth rate than others.
  • It grows moderately fast to slow, depending on external influences, between 200 – 3000 mm per year.
  • First flowering can typically be expected after 3-4 seasons.


  • Younger plants seem to prefer a semi-shady position, but as they approach flowering age, more direct sunlight is needed.
  • Make sure at least 6-8 hours of sunlight falls on the trees per day, whether in the morning or afternoon.

Soil & Water

  • Pavetta revolute prefers a slightly acidic, peaty or loamy, loose soil with ample drainage.
  • It will accept sandy soils but will need an application of bone-meal or compost to give it a good head start.
  • It will also benefit from a seasonal sprinkling of organic liquid fertiliser.
  • Water these trees very well and often in summer, less in winter.
  • Make sure the soil is allowed time to dry out between drenching’s, which can be done 2-3 times per week, depending on the temperature.


  • These trees are most often grown from seed but have also been successfully been propagated from cuttings.
  • Seeds should be sown in spring or early summer.
  • Place the seeds into seedling trays filled with a well-drained growing medium of washed river sand and compost (2:1), and then cover them with another, thin layer of sand.
  • Place these trays in a well, lit, partially sunny and temperate area and mist the soil often, but do not let it become too wet.
  • The seeds can be treated with a pre or post emergence fungicide to prevent damping off.
  • Germination typically occurs within 4-6 weeks.
  • Once the seedlings have developed a set of true leaves and are big enough to handle safely, they can have transplanted into their new, permanent homes.
  • Cuttings should be taken from actively growing semi-hardwood cuttings, preferably of the previous seasons growth.
  • Treat the cuttings with a rooting hormone to encourage the development of healthy roots.
  • Place these firmly in a well-aerated mixture of preferably milled bark and polystyrene.
  • The trays or containers can be treated with a fungicide before placing the cuttings.
  • Mist the cuttings on a regular basis. but allow them time to dry out between watering’s.
  • When the roots have established, transplant the cuttings into a well-drained semi-acidic loamy or peaty medium and allow the new plants time to become settled.