Gardenia cornuta

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Botanical Name
Gardenia cornuta
Rubiaceae - The gardenia and coffee family.
gar-DEE-ni-ah kor-NEW-tah
Common Name(s)
English: Natal gardenia; Horned gardenia
Afrikaans: Wilde-appel; Natalkatjiepiering
IsiZulu: umhlahle; unomphumela; umvalasangweni
Plant Group
  • Shrub A woody plant of relatively low height, having several stems arising from the base and lacking a single trunk; a bush.
Plant Size
  • Large
    Tree18m to 25m
    Shrub3m to 4m
    Perennial/ground cover75cm to 1m
    Bulb80cm to 1.2m
    Succulent1m to 1.5m
  • Light or Dappled Shade Found below trees with sparse, open foliage. Ideal for the protection of herbaceous plants.
  • Partial Shade The area is in shade for part of the day and in full sun for part of the day.
  • Sun The area is in full sun for all or most of the day, all year round.
General Information
  • Attractive fruits, berries or seeds Brightly coloured fruits or berries increase and extend the visual impact of the plant and are especially attractive to birds and other small wildlife.
  • Drought Tolerance: Moderate The plant is moderately adapted to arid conditions and can survive short periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Fragrant / Aromatic These plants posses a strong, usually pleasant odour.
  • Frost: Tender A plant that will not survive any frost or low winter temperatures.
  • Water Moderate These plants will need some extra watering compared to water-wise plants. Plant them together, in at least some shade and in a convenient proximity to the house so that grey water can be utilised during times of drought.
Specific Information

The perfume of the flowers of Gardenia cornuta , especially in the evening, will stop you in your tracks. This neatly shaped small tree or shrub has dense, glossy green foliage and rigid branches. The fruiting branches are decorative with numerous, large yellow fruits which remain on the plant for several months. Growth rate is probably faster in better conditions than mine, but it has sailed through periodic droughts and lack of care with no effect other than that its size is somewhat stunted. .

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long, thin trumpet opening widely with 6 lobes

  • Summer to Autumn Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • white
Growth Rate
  • Slow to Moderate Specifying growth rate can be very misleading as there is considerable variation of growth rate depending on type and species of plant, available water, supplementary feeding, mulching and general care, as well as the plants suitability and adaptability to the garden environment.
Plant Uses
  • Accent or Focal Point A plant used to attract the attention because of its colour or form.
  • Attracts bees, butterflies or other insects This plant attracts insects which can be food for birds or other creatures in your garden.
  • Attracts Birds This plant will attract birds.
  • Border A strip of ground, at the edge of a driveway or path in which ornamental plants or shrubs are planted.
  • Boundary A plant useful for planting around the edges of the property to form a green or colourful backdrop, an impenetrable hedge, to hide walls or create privacy.
  • Suitable for coastal gardens Plants adapted to dry, sandy soil, forceful wind, limited rainfall and intense sunlight.
  • Suitable for smaller gardens Such plants do not have invasive root systems, remain small or controllable and can often be grown in containers.
  • Wild Garden An indigenous garden planted for the benefit of wildlife and birds. Provides food, water, a variety of mini-biomes and no poisonous chemicals are used.
Distribution and Habitat

KwaZulu-Natal, southeastern Mpumalanga, Swaziland and southern Mozambique, in bushveld, woodland, grassy plains and thicket

Planting Suggestions

This plant needs a well-drained area in the garden and needs to be protected from cold winds while young. Water moderately, bearing in mind it comes from a sub-tropical area. (In my garden it is seldom watered and has remained a shrub of just over a meter.) Add compost and mulch well.

Lorraine's Garden Notes

June 2013: My shrub had stayed the same size through 6 years of drought but with the good rains we had last spring, my specimen has  grown impressively this summer. Shows what a bit of 'pampering' can do. I should probably give it a good top dressing of compost and mulch to keep it going.

Medicinal Uses

Traditionally, the fruit and roots are boiled and used as an emetic medicine. Wood is used for poles and fuel.

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I think i bought a Gardenia cornuta 'bonsai' at an auction. This is the only plant which leaves looks more or like the same out of all my internet searches... Will this tree work as a bonsai and is there specific care that it should be given?

Kind regards

Hi Leanne

All Gardenias, including Gardenia cornuta, will work as a bonsai, but as I am not a bonsai grower, I know next to nothing about their care.

However, the following website gives detailed guidance for growing and caring for Gardenia bonsais:

Hope this helps.

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