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Zanthoxylum capense


Water Needs


Zanthoxylum capense
Tree small
Small Knobwood

4 - 6 m


Light Conditions

sun; semi-shade




green-white; summer

Garden Situation

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

Rain Season

summer; winter

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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).

Zanthoxylum capense
Zanthoxylum capense
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