4 - 6 m
sun; semi-shade; dry soils; wildlife bees butterflies insects birds butterfly host; security; container; shrubbery; rockery; small area tree; narrow spaces;
coastal eastern cape; coastal kzn; bushveld; Highveld; rocky places; urban streets
western cape; thicket; subtropical east coast; bushveld savanna; Highveld
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Zanthoxylum capense is a suitable tree for small gardens with glossy, spiky bright green leaves, and spines resembling little rhino horns borne on the slender stem. The Small Knobwood has a sparse crown and will not cast too much shade in your small space. Fruit borne in dense clusters is much enjoyed by birds. The green-white flowers are inconspicuous but scented and attract insects, and it is the host plant for the White-banded and Emperor Swallowtail butterflies usually attracted to members of the citrus family – crushed Knobwood leaves emit a lemony smell. Remember insects are key to a wildlife friendly garden! Use Zanthoxylum singly or in a group. This unusual tree is tough and withstands some drought and moderate frost. It is very popular for use in indigenous medicine – the twigs are used as toothbrushes and ground roots and leaves were used in the flu epidemic of 1918 (Trees of Eastern South Africa by Richard Boon).