Scolopia zeyheri, the thorn pear or in Afrikaans the bergsaffraan (mountain saffron), is sometimes only a spiny shrub, otherwise a small to medium-sized tree of 3 m to 7 m with a straight stem; occasionally it reaches 10 m (SA Tree List No. 498).
The bark is pale grey and fairly smooth, becoming dark brown-grey and rough, but soft and flaky with age. Spines that won’t be missed occur on smaller branches. The wood is hard and difficult to work.
The widespread distribution of the species covers about the eastern half of South Africa as well as the southern Cape coast, also extending into tropical Africa. The tree is found from sea level to altitudes around 2000 m, growing in bushveld thickets, open woodland and along forest margins, often at termite mounds. The species is not considered threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Schmidt, et al, 2002; www.redlist.sanbi.org).