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Trees, Shrubs, Aloes, Grasses and Ground Covers.

Pittosporum viridiflorum

Pittosporum viridiflorum

  • Cheesewood

  • Cape Pittosporum

  • White Cape Beech

  • Kasuur (A)

  • kgalagangwe (N. S)

  • umkhwenkhwe (X)

  • umfusamvu (Z)


  • The name stems from the Greek word pitta, which means resin, and spora, a seed, and is believed to refer to the fact that the seeds are often covered with a resinous layer. A most worthwhile garden tree – hardy, not messy, with a beautiful form, striking, colourful seeds, glossy foliage and fragrant flowers. Low maintenance, with non-invasive root system and a lovely rounded crown that provides deep shade. Protected in SA, and crowned tree of the year in 2002.

SA Tree

  • 139


  • Pittosporaceae (Pittosporum or Cheesewood family).

  • This family of plants belongs to the order Apiales and are distributed from tropical Africa to the Pacific Islands.

  • There are somewhat 9 genera of trees, shrubs or vine- like plants in this family, with only one genus indigenous to SA.

  • Members possess long, leathery and evergreen leaves, white, yellow or red hued flowers, and often have a resin-like substance in the stem ducks.


  • Occurs over a wide range of altitudes and environments, from woodland, bushveld, rocky outcrops and forest margins, to riverine thickets.

  • Widespread over the southern and eastern parts of SA, extending into tropical Africa.


  • Light grey and smoother on young trees, maturing to a pale, greyish brown.

  • In older specimens, the bark is darker and coarser, and often streaked horizontally with conspicuous corky lenticels (spots). On very large trees, the trunk is often furrowed.

  • The stem often exudes a resin, which runs down the trunk in long streaks.


  • At higher altitudes, the tree tends to be deciduous, while it often remains evergreen near the coast

  • The leaves are simple, alternate and often spirally arranged or crowded at the ends of branchlets.

  • Oval to broadly oblanceolate in shape, wider above the middle part, but often very variable in size, ranging from 6-11 x 2-4 cm.

  • The margin is entire, frequently wavy, with a rounded tip.

  • More or less hairless, dark to bluish-green above, paler below, with conspicuous net-veining.

  • One deformed leaf is often present, and 3 small dots set in a triangle can be observed in the cross-section of a broken off leafstalk.

  • When crushed or bruised, the leaves give off a pungent resinous smell.


  • Small, creamy-yellow to greenish white flowers.

  • They are arranged in dense groups or panicles and emit a slight, pleasantly-sweet fragrance.

  • Usually blooming in early summer, from September to December.


  • Creamy, yellowish-brown capsules, 5-10 mm in diameter, are carried in profusion from May to September.

  • They are very attractive, and when mature, split open to reveal 4 bright red or deep orange seeds.

  • These are coated in a pasty, sticky, resin- like substance.


  • Varies from a large shrub up to 4m, to a forest giant of 30m.

  • In the garden, usually between 3-15 m.


  • 3-6 m


  • Mainly the bark, which has a sweetish, resinous smell and bitter taste, is used, most often as an emetic.

  • It is reported to provide relief from stomach – (biliousness, pain) and chest complaints, as well as fever and dizziness.

  • For people suffering from anaemia, a supplement of the bark is given, and the roasted bark of young trees is used to treat cases of dysentery.

  • Infusions are said to have a calming effect, while also relieving pain.

  • In cattle, it is used to treat black-gall sickness and red water.


  • The wood is a light, pastel brown colour.

  • Soft and light in texture, it is not often used, though occasionally kitchen shelves and certain, small furniture items have been constructed from it.

  • Makes for relatively good firewood. The bark contains tannins and produces a red dye.


  • The showy seeds are loved by many seed-eating bird species, especially the Red-eyed Dove.

  • Honeybees, wasps, butterflies and a variety of insects will be lured by the honey-scented inflorescence, which will also attract insectivorous birds.

  • The leaves are browsed by livestock, as well as game such as kudu, nyala and bushbuck.


  • Very popular as an ornamental, and often labelled as an ideal garden tree, with a neat growth habit, non-aggressive root system, (can be planted close to pools, buildings and retainer walls) attractive and striking seed display, scented blooms and general hardy nature.

  • It takes well to pruning and makes a wonderful hedge or screening plant.

  • Also, does well planted in a container, perfect for patios and, planted close together, the trees make for an excellent windbreak.

  • The flowers are most fragrant towards dusk and will fill the garden with a sublime scent.

  • Transplants well and is quick to recover.


  • Slight frost can be withstood, and moderate drought.

  • The trees grow best with moderate, regular watering

Growth Rate

  • Average – fast.


  • Full sun or light shade.

Soil & Water

  • Well-drained, moisture-retentive soils such as loam or peat, but will accept sand provided a bit of extra compost is added prior to planting.

  • Prefers a slightly acidic Ph.


  • Undamaged seeds have a high germination rate and will sprout within 6-12 weeks after being sown in a well-drained and aerated growing medium mix of river sand and compost.

  • Mist often and allow adequate time to dry out between watering.

  • To lessen the sticky coating, wash the seeds in warm water, then rub vigorously between the palms of your hand, and allow to dry beneath a light mesh.

  • Hard or softwood cuttings, taken from active growths on the tree, strike easily and rapidly.

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