Here is an interesting tree to come across: the Gardenia thunbergia.

While I do not have a photograph of the beautifully scented flowers, you can see the fruits, which are hard and woody. They do not burst open and can remain on the bush for years. The seeds are dispersed only by animals eating the fruit.

These trees, while grown as specimen plants in gardens, occur naturally in a strip up the eastern coast of South Africa from near Grahamstown (where these photographs were taken) in the Eastern Cape to Kosi Bay in the north of KwaZulu-Natal – mainly in evergreen forest and forest margins.

The large, woody, oval fruits start off being a pale grey-green in colour, with many, small, raised white dots scattered over the surface.

The trees produce a prolific number of fruit, which are hard and fibrous inside – and are very difficult to open!

According to the genus Gardenia was named in honour of Dr Alexander Garden, a Scottish physician who practised in South Carolina, USA, and who was a correspondent of Linnaeus. This species was named after Carl Thunberg, pupil of Linnaeus and a well-known 18th century botanist and traveller in South Africa.

The Afrikaans common name Buffelsbal means buffalo testicles, a reference to the shape of the fruit. The Zulu name umvalasangweni means the back-gate closer and refers to the fact that it and other spiny shrubs and trees are used as the gates for cattle kraals.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.