Turraea obtusifolia, the Small Honeysuckle-tree is a very ornamental shrub well suited to gardens. It is evergreen with shiny, dark green leaves. It has fairly large, white flowers that are clustered amongst the leaves through the summer months. The fruit is a round capsule that splits open when ripe to expose red to brown-red seeds that are relished by birds.

Turraea obtusifolia is an attractive shrub that will enhace most gardens.

Family:                      MELIACEAE         (Mahogany family)     

Name Derivation:

  • Turraea  – after Giorgio delia Turra (1607 – 1688), professor of botany at the University of  Padua.
  • obtusifolia –  leaves have blunt ends.

Common Names:     Small Honeysuckle-tree (Eng), kleinkanferfoelieboom (Afr), amazulu and inkunzi (Zul).

SAF Number:            296.1                Z Number:        374

Turraea obtusifolia produces a lots of attractive white flowers,

Form:                       An upright shrub.

Size:                          1 – 2 (5) m by 2 – 3 m.


  • The fairly large flowers have 5, long, narrow, white petals that broaden out.
  • The stamenal tube is in the centre of the flower.
  • Flowers are clustered in the axils between the leaves and the stems..
  •  Flowers prolifically.

Colour:    Pure white.

Flowering Months:    Sep – Apr.

Fragrance:                      Flowers are not scented.


  • Evergreen.
  • Simple, alternate or clustered leaves towards the ends of short side twigs.
  • Leaves are obovate, quite variable, mostly quite small <5 cm.
  • Leaves are dark green, shiny.
  • Leaves are lobed towards the apex.

Thorns:   No thorns.


  • The fruit is a rounded, segmented capsule, 5mm by 25mm.
  • Green.
  • Split open to reveal shiny red to red-brown seeds.
  • Dec – Oct.

Turrea obtusifolia flowers have 5 narrow petals that broaden towards their apex.

Turrea obtusifolia with leaves and green fruit capsule. Note the variance in the lobes at the leaf apex.

Turrea obtusifolia showing how the green fruit splits open to reveal the red-brown seeds.

In the Garden:

  • Its shiny dark green leaves and attractive flowers make Turraea obtusifolia a desirable garden shrub.
  • Very showy in full flower.
  • Makes a good container subject.
  • A wildlife friendly plant.

 Soil Needs:   Plant with lots of compost and some bonemeal.


  • A low maintenance garden tree.
  • Can be pruned to produce the required shape.
  • Young plants should be protected against frost.

Cold Hardiness:         Cold hardy, but shelter from cold winds and protect young plants.

Water Requirements:            

  • Water wise plants.
  • Like water in the summer months.         

Light Requirements:  Partial shade or full sun.

Roots:                       Not aggressive.

Birds:  Seeds are eaten by birds.

Turrea obtusifolia plants in flower are very showy.

Turrea obtusifolia flowers are pollinated by Hawkmoth species.

Insects:            The flowers are pollinated by Hawkmoths.


An enema is made from crushed leaves and water to treat intestinal problems.

Poisonous:      Reportedly poisonous.

Notes of interest:

  • Leaves contain chemicals that discourage insects from eating them.
  • The flowers and fruit often appear together throughout summer.

Natural Distribution:

  • EC, KZN, Swa, M, G, NWP L, southern Zim, south-western Moz and parts of Bot..
  • Endemic to southern Africa.

  • Natural Habitat:
  • Bushveld Savanna
  • Lowveld Savanna
  • Thicket

© Malcolm Dee Hepplewhite & Witkoppen Wildflower Nursery, (Text and Photographs) 2019.