The sand olive, as Dodonea viscosa var. angustifolia is commonly known, is a shrub or small tree usually reaching heights around 3 m to 5 m, occasionally 10 m (SA Tree List No. 437).
The species distribution is widespread across the southern and eastern parts of South Africa. It occurs in the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, as well as in all the provinces north of the Vaal River and further in tropical east Africa.
The habitat is very varied, including forest, riverine thicket, wooded slopes and stony flats in high rainfall and arid regions. The tree is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century.
Subspecific name changes have been common, currently only one other variety, D. viscosa var. viscosa occurring in KwaZulu-Natal and further in Africa is recognised locally (Coates Palgrave, 2002; http://redlist.sanbi.org).