Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia


Family : Euphorbiaceae
Common names : kudu berry ( Eng. ); koedoebessie (Afr.); Mutondowa (Tshivenda)

Young tree

Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia is the only species in this genus. It occurs only on the African continent.

LeavesPseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia is an attractive, round, single-stemmed tree, up to 12 m high. The bark is greyish to dark brown. It is fairly slow growing but juveniles grow much faster than established trees. It is deciduous and loses its leaves in winter just after a magnificent display of red autumn foliage. This tree flowers from July to November and bears small greenish white flowers. Sexes are separate on different trees. Fruits are spherical, about 20 mm in diameter.

Conservation status
Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia is not threatened but the ecosystem in which it occurs is threatened due to many factors such as population growth, farming activities, incorrect game farming practices and possibly global warming.

Distribution and habitat
Kudu berry occurs naturally in mixed deciduous vegetation and in woodland, sandveld and on rocky ground; it grows in frost-free areas and can withstand hot and dry environments. In southern Africa, it is distributed in the north of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and spreads through to Zimbabwe. It also occurs in the north of Namibia and Botswana.

Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifoloia is a larval food plant for the butterflies Abantis paradisea and Deudorix dinochares. During the flowering season, a variety of insects such as wasps and bees pollinate the flowers. Seeds are dispersed by animals such as antelope and elephants that eat the leaves and fruits, hence the common name. Fruits also fall to the ground below the tree.

Uses and cultural aspects
From an aesthetic point of view, kudu berry is at its best in autumn when it changes colour to the most beautiful red. Extracts from the bark are used to treat diarrhoea. It has been used in the past to treat pneumonia. It can make a beautiful shade tree in parks and other public open spaces, especially in frost-free areas.

Tree in leaf

Growing Pseudolachnostylis maprouneifolia

Propagate this tree from seed. In nature, the seeds germinate after they have gone through the digestive system of browsers. This plant is seldom propagated for gardening purposes but has a high horticultural potential. It can be sown in well-drained potting soil and transplanted into the ground after setting four pairs of leaves. It is ideal for a game farm and it makes an excellent shade tree for livestock.

References and further reading

  • Coates Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of southern Africa, edn 3. Struik, Cape Town.
  • Palmer, E. & Pitman, N. 1972. Trees of southern Africa. Balkema, Cape Town.
  • Smith, C.A. 1966. Common names of South African plants. Memoirs of the Botanical Survey of South Africa No. 35.
  • Van Wyk, A.E. (Braam) & Van Wyk, P. 1997. Field guide to trees of southern Africa. Struik, Cape Town.
  • Venter, F. & Venter, J-A. 1996. Making the most of indigenous trees. Briza Publications, Pretoria.


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Tshifhiwa Ratshibvumo
Co author: Thompson Mutshinyalo
Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden
April 2008







To find out if SANBI has seed of this or other SA species, please email our seedroom.


This page forms part of the South African National Biodiversity Institute's plant information website