Some indigenous trees that can be planted in the City of Johannesburg

(a) Flowers and leaves of Dias cotinifolia.

(b) Grewia occidentalis flower

Scientific Name


Common name(s)


Burchellia bubalina

Shrub or small tree which grows up to 12 meters tall. Short stem, often multistemmed with smooth pale or grey-brown bark. Opposite, broadly ovate to elliptic leaves. Flowers are orange to red.

Flowering time: Sep-Dec

Wild pomegranate (Eng.); wildegranaat (Afr.); iThobankomo (X), isiGolwane (Z); maHlosana (Sw)


Celtis africana

An attractive deciduous tree which is widespread on the Highveld. It has a smooth pale-grey trunk and light green leaves. It bears tiny, light yellow flowers which are followed by small roundish fruits which are favoured by birds. It got its common name (stinkwood) because the wood has an unpleasant smell when freshly cut.

Flowering time: Aug-Oct

white stinkwood; witstinkhout (Afr.); umVumvu (Xhosa); uSinga lwesalukazi (Zulu); Modutu (Sotho & Tswane); Mpopano (Venda)


Combretum erythrophyllum

This is a medium to large deciduous tree with reddish autumn colors. Flowers are sweetly scented, cream to pale yellow, in spring (September - November). Fruits are small, 4-winged and a greenish brown color, ripening to yellowish brown and drying to a honey-brown. The bark is a pale brown, smooth, but flaking with age to expose grey patches, which give it a mottled appearance. The young leaves are yellowish and shiny maturing to a fresh mid-green.

River bushwillow (Eng.), riviervaderlandswilg, rooiblaar, rooiblad (Afr.), umbondwe, umdubu-wehlandze, umhlalavane (Zulu), umdubu (Xhosa), miavana, modubo (Southern Sotho), modibo (Northern Sotho), mugavhi, mugwiti, muvuvhu (Venda), umdubu (Ndebele)


Combretum molle

This is a small to medium-sized evergreen deciduous trees that grows up to 13 m high, with rounded crown. It has grey bark when still young and this becomes grey-brown or almost black when older. The leaves are simple, opposite, densely covered by velvety hairs when immature and smoother when mature. Its flowering time is Sept.-Nov. The flowers are in dense axillary spikes with greenish yellow color, strongly scented and attractive The fruit is four-winged, about 20 mm in diameter, light green with reddish shade which turns red-brown when dry.

velvet bush willow, velvet leaf willow (Eng.); fluweelboswilg, basterrooibos (Afr.); mokgwethe (North Sotho); iNkukutwane (Siswati); xikhukhutsane (Tsonga); modubatshipi, moduba (Tswana); mugwiti (Venda) and umBondwe-omhlope (Zulu)


Cussonia paniculata

This evergreen rarely exceeding 5 m in height tree with interesting gnarled bark and stunning, large, digitate compound, cabbage blue or grey-green leaves are one of its most distinctive features. The stem is thick and short. This plant is considered a pachycaul succulent on the basis of its swollen stem base or tuber which forms early in plants grown from seed.

The tree is slow grower.

mountain cabbage tree (Eng.), bergkiepersol (Afr.), umsenge (X, Sw) umsengembuzi (Z)


Dais cotinifolia


This is s deciduous evergreen tree which grows up to 12 meters tall with a rounded crown. The stem has a smooth grey bark with pale corky streaks. Leaves are elliptic and smooth with a slightly waxy feel, mid rib and side veins are raised below.

Flower is pale pink or pinkish mauve.

Flowering time: Nov-Feb

Pompon tree, pincushion tree (Eng.), kannabas, speldekussing, basboom (Afr.), intozani (Xhosa); intozwane-emnyama (Zulu)


Diospyros lycioides

It is a deciduous to evergreen shrub to medium tree up to 5 m tall with an open crown and drooping branches. It has blue-green leaves arranged spirally at the ends of the branches. The bark is dark grey to brown and smooth on older branches and stems, but covered with long hairs on young branches.

Bluebush, star-apple, monkey plum (Eng.); bloubos (Afr.); Muthala (Venda); Lethanyu (Tswana); Monkga-nku (Southern Sotho); Mtloumana (Northern Sotho); Umbhongisa (Xhosa); Umbulwa (Zulu); Umcafudane (Swati)


Dombeya rotundifolia

This is a deciduous tree, may reach up to 10 m in height but is usually between 3 and 6 m. The bark is dark brown, very rough and corky on mature trees. The leaves are almost round and are covered with the minute star-like hairs.

wild pear (English); drolpeer (Afrikaans); iNhliziyonkhulu (Zulu); mohlabaphala (N. Sotho); motubane (Tswana); nsihaphukuma (Tsonga)


Ekebergia capensis

This is a large attractive evergreen tree that grows to about 15 m in height with rough light grey to almost black bark, with few buttress roots at the base. The large glossy green leaves that are often tinged with a pinkish patch, or pink edges are pinnate.

The small sweetly scented flowers are white, occasionally also with pink tinge.

Flowering time: Sept-Nov

Cape ash, dogplum (E), essenhout (A), mmidibidi (NS), umnyamatsi (SW), nyamaru (Ts)


Erythrina lysistemon

This is a lovely, small to medium-sized, deciduous tree with a spreading crown and brilliant red flowers. It is a handsome tree at any time of the year, and its dazzling flowers have made it one of the best known and widely grown South African trees.

common coral tree, lucky bean tree (E), gewone koraalboom, kanniedood (A), umsintsi (X), muvhale (V), mophete (Tsw), mokhungwane (Sotho), umsinsi (Z)


Gardenia thunbergia         

This is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing 2 - 5 meters tall, with smooth bark, simple various shaped leaves and  creamy-white, heavily perfumed, bisexual large flowers

white gardenia, forest gardenia, wild gardenia (Eng.), witkatjiepiering, buffelsbal, kannetjieboom (Afr.), umKhangazi (Xhosa), umValasangweni, umKhwakhwane (Zulu)


Grewia occidentalis

Scrambling shrub or small tree which grows up to 10 meters tall. The stem is smooth and slightly angled with grey- brown bark. The leaves are diamond shaped or ovate and alternate. The flower is pink or white.

Flowering time: Jan-July

Cross-berry, four-corner (E), kruisbessie (A), Mokukutu (Setsw.), Mogwane (N.Sotho), iLalanyathi (Zulu), umSipane (Siswati), umNqabaza (Xhosa), Mulembu (Venda), Nsihana (Tsonga)


Halleria lucida

This is an evergreen tree or large shrub, often multi-stemmed tree that can reach up to 12 m in height with rough, pale grey bark. The leaves are opposite, simple, ovate, shiny bright green and have a finely toothed margin. Flowers are tubular, up to 4cm long and orange in color. They appear in clusters and grow off the branches, making them hidden along the leaves. The fruit is a round, fleshy green berry (10mm in diameter) which ripens to black.

tree fuchsia, white olive (Eng.), notsung, witolienhout, witolyfhout (Afr.), umbinza (isiXhosa), indomela, umbinza (isiZulu), lebetsa (Sesotho), murevhe (Tshivenda)


Haperphyllum caffrum

A medium to large evergreen tree with a dense roundish crown. The dark grey-brown bark is rough. The dark shiny green leaves are compound with 4-8 pairs of opposite leaflets plus a terminal leaflet. It bears small yellow flowers in branched sprays near the ends of the branches. Sexes are separate on different trees, with only the female trees bearing oblong, fleshy red fruit.

wild plum (Eng.); wildepruim, suurbessie, gwenjabessie (Afr.); umgwenya (Zulu, Xhosa); mothekele (Northern Sotho)


Heretopyxis natalensis                

A well-shaped, neat semi-deciduous tree bearing glossy dark green foliage that gives a wonderful seasonal display, turning to red in autumn. Small cream flowers are followed by tiny dark-brown capsules. The bark is grey and matures to creamy-tan with a contorted and flaky appearance.

Lavender Tree (Eng), Laventelboom (A), Mudedede (venda) iNkunzi (Zulu)


Heteromorpha arborescens

This small to medium-sized, deciduous tree or straggly shrub with the bark often helps to distinguish it from other species, for it is papery and smooth, peeling off horizontally and leaving ring-like scars below. Leaves are light green to grey-green and may turn yellow and red before falling in autumn with a parsley or parsnips smell when crushed. Flowers are small, green or yellow and strongly scented.

Common Parsley-tree, Tropical Parsley Tree, Peeling-bark Parsley-tree (Eng.); wildepietersielie, Stinkbos (Afr.)


Kiggelaria africana

A well-shaped, dense and low-branching tree with a smooth, grey bark that roughens with age. The leaves are glossy green above and grey-green and hairy below. Tiny bell-shaped, yellow-green flowers born in clusters. Male and female flowers are on separate trees. Fruit is a small grey-green capsule that splits open in a star shape to reveal seeds with a bright orange coating.

wild peach, wildeperske (Afr.), umKokoko (Xhosa), uMunwe (Zulu), Monepenepe (North Sotho), Lekgatsi (South Sotho), Muphatavhafu (Venda)


Olea europaea L. subsp. africana

A neat, well-shaped, evergreen tree with a dense crown of glossy grey-green foliage with lighter undersides.   The leaves are long and narrow.  The bark is brown or charcoal with a rough texture when mature.  The tree produces sprays of tiny white flowers which precede the tiny, purple-black fruit

wild olive, olienhout (Afr.), mohlware (NSotho, SSotho), umnquma (Zulu, Xhosa, Swati), mutlhwari (Venda), motlhware (Tswana)


Prunus africana

A medium-sized tree with a rounded crown and glossy, dark green foliage that has an almond scent when crushed. Bears fragrant, small white pinkish flowers in summer, followed by very bitter, pinkishbrown, and cherry-like fruits.

red stinkwood, African almond ( Eng. ); rooistinkhout, Afrika-amandel, Wilde-kersieboom (Afr.); Inyazangoma-elimnyama, Inkokhokho, Ngubozinyeweni, Umdumezulu, Umlalume (Zulu); uMkakase, Inyazangoma, Itywina-elikhul, Umdumizulu, Umkhakhase (Xhosa), Mogohloro (Northern Sotho), Mulala-maanga (Venda)


Rothmania capensis

This attractive shrub or small tree has leathery, glossy, dark green leaves. In summer, it bears fragrant, solitary, wide, bell-shaped creamy yellow flowers with maroon stripes at the throat. Moderately fast-growing.

Wild gardenia, common Rothmannia (Eng.); wildekatjiepiering (Afr.); modulatshwene (Northern Sotho); mukubudu (Venda); umPhazane-mkhlu (Zulu); iBolo (Xhosa)


Schotia brachypetala

Medium to large, semi-deciduous tree up to 22 meters tall with dense rounded crown. Stem is tall with rough, grey-brown bark. Leaves are shiny and dark green with asymmetric base. The flowers are densely clustered mostly on old wood and appear with leaves.

Flowering time Aug- Nov

Weeping boer- bean tree fuchsia, African walnut (Eng.); huilboerboon (Afr.); umfofofo, umgxam, ishimnumyane (Xhosa), ihluze, umgxamu, uvovovo (Zulu), molope (Northern Sotho), mulibi, mununzwa, mununzwu, mutanswa (Venda), nwavilombe (Tsonga); umutwa (Tswana), uvovovo (Swati)


Searsia lancea

The karee is a small- to medium-sized evergreen tree that usually grows to a height of 7 m and a width of 7 m with coarse-textured bark. Leaves are trifoliate possessing narrowly lanceolate (lance-shaped) leaflets and dark green above and paler green below. The small, inconspicuous flowers are presented as much-branched sprays which are greenish-yellow in color and are produced from June until September. The male and female flowers occur on separate trees.

karee (Eng.); karee, rooikaree (Afr.); mokalabata, monhlohlo, motshakhutshakhu (N.Sotho); inhlangutshane (Siswati); mosinabele, mosilabele (S.Sotho); mosabele, mosilabele (Tswana); mushakaladza (Venda); umhlakotshane (Xhosa)


Searsia leptodictya

is a shrub or small tree with an irregularly rounded crown can reach up to 9 m but is usually a rather scrubby bush of about 3 to 4 m with rough and dark brown bark. The leaves are trifoliate, thinly textured, bright green, narrow and have toothed margins. The flowers are minute, yellowish and carried in sprays from about December to April. Male and female flowers occur on separate trees.

mountain karee, rock karee ( Eng. ); bergkaree, klipkaree (Afr.); inHlangushane (siSwati); Mohlwehlwe (Northern Sotho)


Senegalia caffra

The tree is deciduous and is one of the first to shoot in spring. The new leaves are particularly pretty, being a soft, fresh green. The flower spikes are creamy white and sweetly scented. The flower spikes are large and conspicuous and make a lovely show against the backdrop of the new leaves. They are followed by narrow, straight, brown seeds pods.

Flowering time: Sept-Nov

Common hook-thorn, cat thorn(English); Gewone haakdoring, Katdoring (Afrikaans); umTholo (Zulu); Motholo (N. Sotho); Morutlhare (Tswana); Mbvhinya-xihloka (Tsonga)


Vachellia karroo

The tree has a rounded crown, branching fairly low down on the trunk. It is variable in shape and size, reaching a maximum of about 12m where there is good water. The bark is red on young branches, darkening and becoming rough with age. The leaves are finely textured and dark green.

The flowers appear in early summer in a mass of yellow pompons. The thorns are paired, greyish to white and are long and straight.

Sweet thorn (English); Soetdoring (Afrikaans); Mookana (North Sotho); Mooka (Tswana); umuNga (Zulu) (Xhosa)


Vachellia seiberiana

Is an evergreen or semi-deciduous tree that can grow to a height of 8 to 15 m with flattened crown, dense, spreading foliage and a papery bark? During spring balls of cream to yellow colored flowers appear in profusion and it has a sweet scent that attracts insects and birds alike.  Grey brown pods, containing seeds, follow in autumn and ripen on the tree

Paperbark Thorn, Paperbark Acacia, Natal Camel Thorn, Flat-topped Thorn (Eng.); papierbasdoring (Afr.); Mphoka (North Sotho); umNganduzi (Siswati); Mokha, Morumosetlha (Tswana); Musaunga (Venda); umKhamba (Zulu); Nkowankowa (Tsonga)


Vachellia xanthophloea

Tall deciduous tree which grows up to 30 meters tall. The stem has a smooth lime to yellowish-green bark. The leaves are clustered, flowers are yellow balls.

Flowering time: Aug-Nov

Fever Tree (English), Koorsboom (Afrikaans), mooka-kwena (Northern Sotho), umHlosinga (Zulu), nkelenga (Tsonga), munzhelenga (Venda).


Xanthoxylum capense

This is a hardy, deciduous to semi-deciduous small to medium-sized tree, with 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.

small knobwood (Eng.); kleinperdepram (Afr.); umlungumabele (isiXhosa); umnungamabele (isiZulu); monokwane (Sotho); khunugumorupa (Tsonga)


Ziziphus mucronata

This is a small to medium-sized tree, 3-10m high; with a spreading canopy. The main stem is green and hairy when young; year old branches often zigzag; the bark is reddish brown or roughly mottled grey, cracked into small rectangular blocks. Leaves are shiny, simple have 3 clear veins at the base and finely serrated margin. Flowers are bisexual yellowish-green.

buffalo thorn (Eng.); blinkblaar-wag-'n-bietjie (Afr.); umphafa, umlahlankosi, isilahla (isiZulu); umphafa (isiXhosa); umlahlabantu (Swazi); mokgalo (Tswana); mutshetshete (Venda); mphasamhala (Tsonga); mokgalô, moonaona (N Sotho)



Boon. R, 2010, Trees of eastern South Africa a complete guide, Durban, The flora publication trust

Coates Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of southern Africa, edn 3. Struik, Cape Town.

Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. 1997. Field guide to trees of southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.