Natal Mahogany [Trichilia emetica]
This large, evergreen has a wide spreading crown which casts dense shade. The handsome leaves are a glossy dark green. The sweet smelling flowers are a creamy green colour and are produced in tight bunches.
It withstands an average winter drought and slight frost. The bark is smooth and is dark brown to grey in colour. This tree can grow up to 20m tall. The nectar attracts bees and birds. The round fruits split when mature, revealing striking red and black seeds which are eaten by birds. Occasionally a tree will only bear male flowers, so will never fruit.
Monkeys feed on the flowers and baboon and antelope eat fruit. Local people soak seeds in water, which leave behind a milky substance, which is sometimes eaten with spinach. The seeds are also eaten by certain bird species. Oil extracted from the seeds is used cosmetically and also used to help heal bones.
Bark, which has been powdered down, is used as an emetic and an enema and may also be used to make a pinkish dye. The flowers are produced between August to November and fruit is found between December to April. The wood is used for carvings, musical instruments, household implements, furniture, bats and canoes.
They can be found in open woodland and riverine bush. They can be found from Sudan to Kwazulu-Natal.
Although the seeds of the Natal Mahogany are edible it is important to know that the outer coat of the seed is poisonous.
Where they are found
Natal Mahogany trees are found in various regions, such as the Northern Province and Kwa Zulu Natal, in South Africa.