Elaeodendron croceum, the forest saffron or common saffronwood and previously E. papillosum and Cassine papillosa respectively at different times, is an evergreen tree of tall or medium height, typically growing to 5 m, infrequently to 10 m (SA Tree List No. 415).
Small, greenish white flowers grow in small clusters from leaf axils, from spring to autumn. Fleshy berries, pale, ovoid and large, gradually becoming wrinkled, are seen as late as with the following year’s flowers.
The species distribution is mainly coastal in the Western and Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, also in the Mpumalanga and Limpopo Lowveld. Beyond the South African border the tree grows in Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
The E. croceum habitat is moist, evergreen, dry and dune forests. There may be a little concern about the future of this tree in habitat, as it is estimated that its population is declining early in the twenty first century (Venter, 2012; Coates Palgrave, 2002; www.redlist.sanbi.org).