Strychnos pungens

Botanical name

Strychnos pungens (SA No 628)

Other names

Spine-leaved monkey orange; stekelblaarklapper (Afrikaans)


Strychnaceae or Loganiaceae


Small tree or shrub, mostly 3 to 5 m

Description of stem

Rough, grey, flaking bark on old, thick trunks, smooth on younger branches; conspicuous lenticels on young branches; without spines but with short spinelike branches

Description of leaves

Elliptic, glabrous, dark green and leathery, ending in a sharp spine at the apex; three-veined, the outer two completing a smaller irregular elliptical pattern than the leaf edge; lighter below than above, smooth, entire margin; short, thick petiole

Description of flowers

Clusters of small white flowers, often slightly greenish

Description of seed/fruit

Green or blue-green, woody-rinded fruit; close to spherical, usually irregularly marked on the surface; hard, usually yellow by midwinter, containing many seeds in an edible pulp

Description of roots




Propagation and cultivation





Ripe fruit pulp edible, although the seeds may contain poison; various medicinal uses, including a decoction of the roots that is used for stomach ache and bronchitis

Ecological rarity


Pests and diseases



The Indian strychnos species that yields strychnine may have given rise to the name of the genus; pungens refers to the spine on the leaf tip; the wood is yellow, not often used


Bushveld and woodland, rocky hills and sandy patches

Distribution (SA provinces)

Gauteng, Northwest, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape


South Africa, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia

Info Palgrave
Category: Trees