Zanthoxylum capense

Zanthoxylum capense

Common Names

Kleinperdepram (afrikaans)
Small Knobwood (english)
umLungumabele (xhosa)
umNungumabele (zulu)


Genus Zanthoxylum
Species capense
SA Plant Number 253
Basionym Zanthoxylum capense


Zanthoxylum capense is a hardy, deciduous to semi-deciduous small to medium-sized tree, which can grow to a large tree under favourable conditions. It has smooth, dark grey bark and broad, cone-shaped knobs that are topped with a short spine. The leaves are divided into leaflets, that are shiny and dark green above, and paler beneath. When crushed they are somewhat brittle and have a strong Citrus scent.

From October to February, the tiny, white, scented flowers are clustered at the ends of the branches. The male and female flowers are borne on separate trees. Female trees develop clusters of tiny orange-red fruits that split to release oil-rich black seeds. The fruit is edible but cause a burning sensation in the mouth.

Both flowers and fruit attract many insects and birds to the garden. It is a host plant to the Citrus Swallowtail and other Swallowtail Butterflies. This tree is widely used in traditional medicine remedies, and the wood is used for implements.

It makes an excellent container plant, or part of a forest garden or plant singly as a specimen tree to prune up and expose the interesting, knobbly stem.

Plant in semi-shade or full sun, in well-drained, compost rich soil.

Size: 2 to 15m


Butterfly Host Plant:
Host to the Citrus Swallowtail Butterfly, and other Swallowtail butterfly species
Attracts Birds:
Birds are attracted to the garden by the many pollinating insects visiting the flowers, as well as by the fruit.


Excellent specimen tree, good container plant, good addition to a forest garden.
Medcinal plant:
Widely used in traditional medicine.


KwaZulu Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Mozamique, Zimbabwe

Rocky mountain slopes, Rocky Outcrops, Woodland


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