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Calodendrum capense


Water Needs


Calodendrum capense
Tree medium

7 - 8


Light Conditions

sun; semi-shade;


light; moderate; hardy


pink July to March; winter spring summer

Garden Situation

sun; semi-shade; clay soils; feature tree; shade tree; wildlife birds insects butterflies monkeys butterfly host


fynbos; woodland forest; bushveld; wetland; coastal eastern cape; coastal kzn; urban streets


thicket; subtropical east coast; highveld; bushveld savanna; western cape

Rain Season

summer; winter

Find informative indigenous gardening articles in our web magazine -


Lavish displays and an almost unrivalled beauty make the Cape-chestnut a favorite garden tree around the country; one gardener I know calls it the Queen of trees! In fact, it is a popular ornamental world-wide. When grown as a garden tree, the average height is 7 to 8 m, with straight trunks and broad, rounded canopies. In forest environments they top 20 m, but those in a hot, dry situation (bushveld, for example), can develop gnarled trunks and are frequently quite short and squat. Leaves are smooth and aromatic, about 14 x 8 cm, carried opposite each other on the stem. Flowers are a mix of light to dark pink or mauve, growing in terminal sprays (at the tips of branches) that in mid-season cover the entire crown. A close-up view of the flowers shows an attractive purple/ maroon throat, and 5 staminodes (sterile stamens) resembling unformed petals covered with purplish maroon spots or glands. Flowering takes place anytime from July to March. Flowering begins at 7 years. Fruit is a round, warty-looking capsule that hangs from branches from January to May. Initially a bright green, they mature to a dark brown and harden as they dry. As summer ends, the capsules split open into five sections, releasing about 10 seeds. Seeds are believed to possess magical properties by the Xhosa people. Butterflies and other insects feed on the nectar and monkeys and birds eat the seeds. This member of the Citrus family is a host plant to several butterfly species including the Swallowtail species. Leaves carry oil glands, one of the diagnostic features of the Rutaceae (Buchu and Citrus) family, to which it belongs, giving the leaves a strong scent when crushed. The bark is smooth and grey, with white streaks appearing in older trees. Wood is light in colour with a smooth finish and is used to make furniture. The neat, rounded canopy and non-aggressive roots make the Cape-chestnut an attractive shade and street tree. Growing conditions: full sun to light shade, fertile soils, moderate rainfall. Protect young trees from frost, but, once established, mature trees are able to withstand a moderate frost. Growers in bitterly cold regions suggest flowering is reduced where temperatures are very low. In high rainfall areas, growth is rapid. Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West, Western Cape

Calodendrum capense
Calodendrum capense
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