Ximenia caffra

Botanical name

Ximenia caffra (SA No 103)

Other names

Sourplum; suurpruim (Afrikaans); morokologa (sePedi)




Small tree or large shrub of irregular shape, often 3 to 4 m in height; in Tanzania reported to grow to 15 m

Description of stem

Often several stemmed, dark grey and rough bark on older stems; spine-tipped branchlets are common

Description of leaves

Dark green, shiny, with orange, hairy sheen, fascicled, margin entire, rolled under

Description of flowers

Clusters of small creamy flowers in September and October

Desciption of seed/fruit

Ellipsoid, orange-red, mottled fleshy fruit, 2,5 cm in length; edible, but soon sour after the first taste when the leathery skin is broken

Description of roots



Variations with and without persistent light brown hairs on leaves and young branches; two distinct variations, var. caffra with hairs on leaves and young branches occurs in Gauteng and in the northerly parts of Limpopo, whilst var. natalensis with smooth leaves is found in the more easterly parts of the tree's distribution area

Propagation and cultivation

Fresh seeds are sown in a compost and river sand mix; plant two-leaf seedlings for a season in containers, then in the ground


Thrives in sun, resists drought and can tolerate mild cold


Seeds yield an oil used in a variety of ways; fruit used for making a jelly; fruit eaten by baboons, sometimes by children; popular garden subject that attracts birds and butterflies; reported to have been used in the treatment of among other things the treatment of bilharzia and malaria

Ecological rarity


Pests and diseases





In wooded areas on hillsides and in grasslands, often on rocky outcrops

Distribution (SA provinces)

Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Limpopo, Kwazulu-Natal


South Africa, Mozambique, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia

Category: Trees