Ximenia caffra, the sourplum, is a large shrub or small, semi-deciduous tree reaching heights from 1 m to 7 m (SA Tree List. No. 103).
Multi-stemmed or branching of the stem from the base brings about a bushy frame with dense foliage to ground level. Old branches are dark with rough bark, whilst the young ones are smooth and green or pale brown.
The leaves are leathery, fascicled on short, spine-tipped, lateral branchlets. Small, cream coloured to white flowers grow in axillary clusters. The fruit is a red, oval drupe that ripens in summer and is eaten by all (animals, birds, humans) in spite of it being quite sour.
The tree is found from central Africa to the South African provinces of Limpopo, North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal. The tree grows in wooded grassland and bushveld. The species is not considered to be threatened in its habitat early in the twenty first century.
Various remedies concocted from parts of this tree are used in traditional medicine, treating ailments ranging from sore eyes to diarrhoea and bilharzia. As with several other plants there is also mention of an aphrodisiac quality; another case of yearning guiding belief (www.plantzafrica.com; Coates Palgrave, 2002; http://redlist.sanbi.org).