A Psychotria capensis tree like the one in picture, living well at Kirstenbosch (beyond the confines of its habitat, but clearly thriving), is likely to look different to one that ekes out an existence in the dry parts of the Eastern Cape or languishes in the hot and humid northeast of subtropical South Africa.
There are two subspecies (subsp. capensis with flower stalks and subsp. riparia without). Each subspecies has at least two varieties as well.
The common name, black bird-berry, refers to the ripe fruit colour and the consumers who disperse the seeds.
The widespread distribution of the species involves variation in climatic conditions, elevation, pollinators, soil types, competing vegetation and more factors. This brings the variety in the living adaptations made by the plant, a key feature of being alive (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Pooley, 1993).