African Dog-rose • Afrikaanse Hondsroos • UmBhalekani (Z) • umDubu (X)

A most handsome and rewarding, multi-stemmed shrub or small tree, with whitish bark and a sparse crown of lustrous green foliage. In spite of its rather shapeless growth form, it is a most worthwhile and attractive garden subject, especially during the fruiting and flowering months, when the entire tree lights up with masses of perfumed, ivory, rose-like flowers, followed by bright yellow woody fruits that split into a pretty and unusual star-shape. It is the only known species of Xylotheca in South Africa.


  • 493
  • Achariaceae
  • A family of flowering plants, herbs, shrubs and trees, distributed throughout the tropical regions of the world, presently comprising of somewhat 30 genera and 145 species. Most members were previously included in the Flacourtiaceae family, while Achariaceae was initially a minor and little-known family of herbaceous or shrub-like plants from Africa, but recent DNA studies have altered the classification, and are still in progress. Members have unique flowers – the parts are typically spiral, not whorled, or if it is whorled, the petals outnumber the sepals. The petals also generally have a thin layer of scale at their bases, and the flowers possess a multitude of stamens
  • Occurs in and along the margin of forests (especially prevalent in low altitude and coastal dune forests), open woodland, bushveld and shrub., from Natal to Gauteng, also in Mozambique. Can also be found growing on rocky outcrops, especially in the Drakensberg area.


  • Pale grey-brown and smooth. The main trunk is most often straight, with a diameter of 100-200 mm, and young stems are covered with a thin layer of velvety hairs.
  • Semi-deciduous. (particularly if planted in full sun and not watered during the dormant winter months)
  • Simple, ovate (60-80 x 20-50 mm), and alternately arranged leaves. The upper surfaces are a glistening dark-green, but underneath they are significantly paler, with 6-8 pairs of raised, yellowish lateral veins that extend to the margin, which is smooth and faintly rolled under. The leaf tips are broadly tapering to rounded, and the bases are narrow. Leafstalks can be between 0.5 – 1 m long, and are either glabrous or slightly hairy. Two varieties have been recorded, one with a layer of soft grey-white hairs, the other completely hairless.
  • Large (70-100 mm), pure white flowers, with 10 or less petals, and an abundance of bright yellow stamens that form a striking central mass. The flowers occur in small axillary groups of 2-3, or solitary. The flowers have strong sweet scent. (September – January)
  • Oval to broadly elliptic, thick-walled, woody capsule (30-40 mm long), often with 5-8 longitudinal ridges, and a pointed tip. Yellow, maturing to a russet brown, frequently splitting open on the tree to reveal numerous blackish seeds, each covered nearly halfway in a sticky, orange-red, edible flesh. (January – May)
  • 1-7 m, infrequently reaching 12 m.
  • 1.5 – 3 m


  • Leaf extracts have shown to contain antifungal and antioxidant activity, and studies are currently underway for their use in biopesticides that are relatively non-toxic and cost-effective.


  • The flowers attract bees, butterflies and insects, while the seeds are loved by birds (Barbets, Starlings, Mousebirds, Bulbuls and more) and people. It is the larval food plant for two Acraea butterfly species, and the caterpillars may lure insect eating birds.
  • One of our most prolific coastal spring flowering plants, and also a magnet for birds. As it does not grow very big, and tends to branch low down, it makes a good screen or hedge plant. For narrow and confined spaces and small gardens, it is the ideal candidate. Xylotheca kraussiana grows very well in a big container, and adds beauty to courtyards. It can endure sandy soils, and is a good choice for difficult coastal gardens. Not prone to diseases. Provides light shade.


  • Although X. kraussiana prefers warmer areas, it can withstand light frosts if given adequate protection or planted in a sheltered area. Young and unestablished plants should alays be covered against extreme cold. It will endure short periods of drought, especially in winter.
  • Moderate. 500 – 700 mm per year under ideal conditions.
  • It prefers a sunny position, but will accept soft, filtered light or morning sun only.
  • Peaty, humus rich soils are ideal, but loamy or sandy is tolerated. It has moderate water needs, more during warm summer months, less frequently in winter, when it enters the resting phase.
  • Best sown from seeds (cleaned and scarified to aid germination). Seeds can be pre-soaked in warm water overnight to soften the hard-outer shell. Plant in a well-drained seedling mixture of river sand and compost (2:1) Place in a warm and bright area, and water regularly. Germination is usually good, but care must be taken not to overwater. When the seedlings reach the true leaf stage, transplant carefully into bigger containers, taking care not to damage any roots.