Azima tetracantha

Botanical name

Azima tetracantha (SA No 622,1)

Other names

Needle-bush; speldedoring (Afrikaans); bee-sting bush




Scrambling, spiny shrub or small tree of about 5 m

Description of stem

Bark green on younger branches, turning brown, young twigs sometimes square in cross-section, hairy; characteristic whorls of four long straight spines occur along the length of branches at each of the leaf axils

Description of leaves

Oval to circular, opposite or nearly so, each pair at right angles to the previous and following one; light green, leathery and usually hairy; apex has a sharp tip, margin entire, tapering at both ends, short petiole

Description of flowers

Dioecious; light green or yellow, small flower clusters in axils; floral parts in fours; petals recurving, calyx bell-shaped

Description of seed/fruit

Round berry of 1 cm in diameter with a sharp apical tip; fleshy, light-coloured, containing one or two seeds; ripe from summer into the next winter;

Description of roots




Propagation and cultivation





Used for toothache and snakebite; browsed by cattle

Ecological rarity


Pests and diseases





Bushveld and woodland, near rivers and termite mounds

Distribution (SA provinces)

Western Cape; Eastern Cape; Kwazulu-Natal; Mpumalanga


South Africa; Namibia; Swaziland; Zimbabwe; Mozambique; Zambia; Malawi