An evergreen, large shrub or small to medium tree with a dense crown. Pittosporum viridiflorum is a versatile garden subject, from screening to shade tree or container subject. It is cold and drought hardy. Like many indigenous plants, it will attract wildlife to your garden.
- Pittosporum – from Greek ‘pitta’ pitch or resin and ‘spora’ seed, referring to the seeds that is embedded in a sticky, resinous pulp.
- viridiflorum – Latin meaning green flowers..
Common Names: Cheesewood (Eng), kasuur, bosboekenhout (Afr), kgalagangwe (Nso), phukhu (Sso), umvusamvu (Swa), mpatakhamelo (Tso), mulondwane (Ven), umkhwenkwe (Xho) and umfusamvu (Zul).
FSA Number: 139 Zim Number: 143
- An evergreen large shrub or small to medium tree with a dense crown.
Size: 3 – 8 m (–12 m) by 3 – 5 m.
- Small, sweetly fragrant, creamy-yellow to yellow-green flowers in terminal clusters.
Colour: Creamy-yellow to yellow-green.
Flowering Months: Aug – Dec.
- Flowers are sweetly scented.
- Crushed leaves smell of resin.
- Bark smells of carrot or liquorice.
- Simple leaves, mostly obovate to broadly oblanceolate, spiraled at ends of branchlets.
- The leaves are prone to attack by psyllids, and are often deformed.
- Leaves are shiny dark (blue) green above, paler below with translucent veins below.
- Fruit are yellow-brown round capsules, 5 – 10 mm.
- Fruit split open to reveal 4 seeds covered in a sticky, bright orange-red flesh.
- Bark grey and smooth, lenticels on young stems.
- Horizontal ‘pits’ and rougher on mature stems
- Bark smells of carrot or liquorice and tastes bitter.
- With its dense crown, attractive foliage and fruit, Pittosporum viridiflorum makes a good garden shrub or tree.
- In large gardens or open spaces it can be planted as an informal hedge or used as a screen.
- They can be pruned up to form an attractive small shade or feature tree.
- A good plant for a wildlife friendly garden, attracting birds to the fruit.
- Makes a very good container plant in a sunny or semi-shaded position on a patio or courtyard.
- May be planted close to paving, walls or even pools and ponds.
- Can be used in fairly narrow spaces and pruned to stay within the allotted space.
- Medium fast grower, between 40 and 70 cm in a year.
- A low maintenance plant.
- Feed with organic fertilizer and mulch with compost.
- Protect young plants against cold.
- Leaves are prone to attack by psyllids, causing bumps on the leaves. Although unsightly, these do not hurt the tree. You can spray regularly with a mild organic insecticide like Vegol or Neudosan.
Cold Hardiness: Cold hardy, but a little frost sensitive when young.
- Drought hardy, but thrives on regular summer water.
Light Requirements: Full sun or partial shade.
Roots: The roots are not aggressive.
- Insectivorous birds are attracted to the insects that come to the flowers and leaves.
- The seeds are sought after by many birds, including African Olive Pigeons, doves, barbets and starlings.
- Francolins and guineafowls eat fruit that has fallen to the ground.
- Bees, adult butterflies and moths feed from the flowers.
- Plant parts are used in various ways to treat fevers, chest and digestive problems, malaria and dizziness.
- Used to treat red water and black gall-sickness.
Poisonous: Not poisonous.
Notes of interest:
- Trees are browsed by game and stock.
- The white wood has little value.
- The powder of dried bark or root is added to beer and considered an aphrodisiac (please be careful)!
- Found in the WC, EC, eastern FS, Les, KZN, NWP, G, Swa, M, L, and parts of Zim.
- To the north it is found up to tropical Africa as well as in the Yemen.
- Grasslands, forest, thickets, savanna-woodland and savanna-bushveld.
- Grows on wooded rocky slopes and ridges, in woodlands, riverine bush and forest.
© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2012 & 2018.