Pittosporum viridiflorum

Botanical name

Pittosporum viridiflorum

Other names

Cheesewood; kasuur (Afrikaans); umkhwenkwe (Xhosa); umfusamvu (Zulu)




Well-shaped, single-stemmed and erect tree often up to 7m, occasionally in forests up to 15m

Description of stem

The bark is smooth and grey in younger trees, becoming rough, darker and sometimes fluted in mature specimens, with distinctive horizontal rings of lenticels

Description of leaves

Simple leaves arranged in spiralling clusters at twig ends; obovate and wavy, glossy green above, characteristic network of veining more conspicuous on the lower surface; margin entire, apex varying, often attenuate

Description of flowers

Dense terminal clusters of small creamish yellow flowers with five attractively recurving petals

Description of seed/fruit

Yellow to light brown dehiscent capsules, 6cm in diameter, containing four shiny red seeds in winter

Description of roots

Not aggressive, suitable for smaller gardens



Propagation and cultivation

Grows readily from seed or cuttings in well-drained soil; water regularly




Popular and succesfully used as a garden tree; the bark is said to possess medicinal properties, among other things for the treatment of stomach disorders; also used in the treatment of cattle

Ecological rarity

Common, may even be invasive in some habitats

Pests and diseases





Wide-ranging forest and bushveld conditions


Western and Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, North West, Mpumalana and Limpopo


South Africa, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, Ethiopia, India


Category: Trees