Strophanthus speciosus

Strophanthus speciosus

Common Names

Bosgiftou, giftou, bobbejaantou, osdoring (afrikaans)
Forest Poison Rope, forest tailflower, poison rope, common poison rope (english)
amaSebele, umHlazazane, isihlungu (zulu)
umkhukhumeza (xhosa)
ntsulu (tsonga)
umhlazazane (swazi)


Genus Strophanthus
Species speciosus
SA Plant Number 649.6
Basionym Strophanthus speciosus


Strophanthus speciosus is a semi-hardy, evergreen small tree, shrub or climber with greenish bark that has raised white dots. The leaves are leathery and, like the rest of the plant, contain a poisonous, water sap.

The flowers, borne from September to December, are striking – with long spidery tepals that are creamy yellow to orange, with a brighter orange marking towards the centre of the flower.

The greenish yellow, two-horned fruit that develops after flowering becomes brown, and splits to release seeds attached to silky hairs that assist with dispersing them by wind.

The seeds, leaves and latex of this plant are poisonous, and are nevertheless used in traditional medicine – particularly in the treatment of snakebites.

An interesting container plant, that can be grown as a woody climber or planted and pruned up to remain a small tree or large shrub. It requires well-composted soil, moderate watering and plant in a semi-shade to shady position.

Size: can climb up to 10m if supported



Strophanthus speciosus provides good nesting sites for birds



Strophanthus is used in moderate doses as a cardiac stimulant. The fruit was used as a spear poison. The roasted and pounded roots are given in powder form to cattle and humans to treat snakebites.


Eastern Cape, KwaZulu Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Swaziland, Zimbabwe

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