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Canthium inerme


Water Needs


Canthium inerme
Shrub large

4 - 7 m


Light Conditions

sun; semi-shade




white August to February; winter spring summer

Garden Situation

sandy soils; sun; semi-shade; screen; security; shrubbery; wildlife bees birds monkeys


fynbos; woodland forest; coastal kzn; bushveld; coastal eastern cape; grassland


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

Rain Season

summer; winter

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There are many wonderful shrubs that are relatively unknown but deserve a place in many garden climates, and the Turkey-berry family is one such group. Part of the Gardenia family it lacks the gorgeously scented blooms but is none-the-less worth its place as a screening and bird food plant. Canthium inerme is pretty as an evergreen backdrop, but when in fruit from August to February, it provides many fruit-eating birds with a feast they relish. The common name of Turkey-berry indicates of the variety of bird species that enjoy the fruits. Description: This versatile shrub grows in a wide range of areas from protective forests to exposed full sun grasslands and bushveld, from the coast inland into the Highveld and these affect the overall look of the shrub as well as mature size. The pale grey trunk and branches of the young shrub are most attractive and carry long, thin spines of between 70 and 80mm long. Usually multi-stemmed this bark darkens and roughens with age, and a mature plant can develop great character should the bark twist and peel as it does in many. The branches grow at right angles to both the main trunk and the adjacent branches. The leaves are a light glossy green, soft to the touch and elliptical in shape, of an average size (25 and 100 mm in length and 10 and 45 mm in width), with the edges smooth but slightly wavy. From August to February small cream to green/yellow flowers cluster on the tips in groups of up to 30mm in diameter. These will attract insects and in turn their predators, but it is for the oval-shaped fruits that this family is most known. Hanging in dense groups from October through to April they are initially green but darken as they age to a dark brown, eventually becoming quite wrinkled before they drop. The Afrikaans common name of Bokdrol is very apt, likening the fallen fruits to antelope droppings.A good choice for gardeners focusing on supporting the local bee populations, as it is pollinated by bees, although some measure of self-pollination does also occur, so plant at least three close together to form a wildlife thicket. Seed dispersal is carried out by birds ensuring its wide distribution. In the wild seed are also eaten and dispersed by local bush pig. In forest and forest edge conditions when it will be fighting for space, Canthium inerme is more likely to grow into a tall tree, but if given enough space and full to partial sun or high light intensity, it is more likely to become a dense shrub of up to 5m. It will then form a good screen. The growth habit is neat and fairly compact, and it is a good choice to fill various roles within a garden setting from security and screening to background vegetation, nesting sites, and fruit and nectar supplies for birds and insects. The Turkey-berry is also the host plant for one butterfly and four moth species. Propagating the Turkey-berry: These shrubs are best grown from seed which can take between 1 and three months to germinate. Ensure they are fresh, ripe and cleaned of the outer layers of pulp. Sow in an enriched but well draining medium, soil and compost mix in equal quantities works well, and keep moist but not too wet. Being a forest and forest edge shrub, plant with a good measure of compost in the planting hole to ensure strong initial growth. It is a hardy shrub that needs no pampering or pruning. Not endemic to South African Canthium inerme has a wide distribution range from Eastern Cape, Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West and Western Cape

Canthium inerme
Canthium inerme
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