Pappea capensis

Botanical name

Pappea capensis

Other names

Jacket plum, doppruim (Afrikaans), iNdaba (Zulu), mothata (Tswana)




Medium sized tree, fast-growing, often up to 8m in height, but occasionally exceeds 12 m, with a dense, rounded crown

Description of stem

Smooth light-grey bark

Description of leaves

Simple, oblong, alternate leaves tend to cluster near the ends of twigs; markedly serrated in younger plants and coppice shoots, while in mature trees close to entire; paler green below, rough and leathery, wavy; apex rounded; petiole about 1,5 cm; central vein or midrib sunken, whitish and conspicuous; semi-deciduous, especially in harsher climates; new leaves pink or bronze

Description of flowers

Small greenish or pale yellow flowers, floral parts in fives, appear in long (10 to 15 cm) axillary and terminal catkins; dioecious; September to May

Desciption of seed/fruit

Green, round and velvety, over 1cm in diameter, splitting open to reveal a bright red fleshy fruit containing a dark brown seed (on the female tree), December to May

Description of roots




Propagation and cultivation

Easy to grow from seed or stem cuttings, slow growing in the colder and drier areas where it occurs, but established trees tend to grow faster


Drought resistant and adapts to wide temperature variations


Popular larger garden and park tree; edible fruit; Masai warriors are said to eat the fruit as a blood-strengthening tonic, to gain courage or as an aphrodysiac; some say it is browsed by game and cattle, although this may be in specific regions only; the fruit is made into a jelly, vinegar or an alcoholic drink; the seed contains an oil used as a purgative and to treat ringworm; the bark is also used medicinally; eaten by many bird species, butterflies and other insects

Ecological rarity

Common, not threatened

Pests and diseases



Will be the SA Dept of Water Affairs and Forestry's (common) Tree of the Year in 2011


Open and grassy woodland, rocky outcrops and brackish flat areas, sometimes in bush close to rivers or dry river vicinities; close to termite mounds


Northern, Western and Eastern Cape, Free State, Kwazulu-Natal, Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga


South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Swaziland Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi, Kenya, DRC, Ethiopia, Eritrea