Lost some branches, but the impressive girth of the old Xanthocercis zambesiaca bole is still well covered in bark for sustaining a wide, albeit worn and weathered crown. Old nyala tree stems are usually massive, full of gnarling, twisting and buttresses. Branching often starts low down, young branchlets tending to droop.
The usually brown bark is sometimes tinged yellow. It is rough in texture, cracked into small pieces that do not peel. Some leaves grow directly from old stems.
The fruits are fleshy, red-brown berries that become 2,5 cm long, bearing one or two seeds and seen on the tree for many months. These fruits are popular with people and many animals. They are eaten fresh, while people also dry the fruit, sometimes by burying them for later grinding into a meal and making porridge. The leaves are also favoured by browsers.
The wood is fine-textured and attractive, suitable for carpentry but for its dust that causes irritation to nose and throat while it is worked.
Readily grown from seed, nyala trees grow slowly and are frost sensitive, good for large gardens in clayey soils (Coates Palgrave, 2002; Schmidt, et al, 2002).