Kiggelaria africana

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Botanical Name
Kiggelaria africana
Flacourtiaceae - The governers-plum family.
kig-ga-LAIR-ree-uh af-ri-KAHN-uh
Common Name(s)
English: Wild peach; Natal Mahogany; Red Ebony
Afrikaans: Wildeperske; Kershout; Witstinkhout
IsiXhosa: umKokoko; Umhlizinyathi; Umvethi
IsiZulu: uMunwe
Sesotho sa Leboa: Monêpênêpê
Sesotho: Lekgatsi
Tshivenda: Muphatavhafu
Plant Group
  • Tree A woody, self-supporting perennial plant usually with a single main stem and generally growing more than 6 meters tall.
Plant Size
  • Small to Medium
    Tree8m to 15m
    Shrub75cm to 1m
    Perennial/ground cover20cm to 40cm
    Bulb30cm to 40cm
    Succulent20cm to 40cm
  • 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: High The plant is well adapted to arid conditions; it can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures without extra water.
  • Evergreen Plants that have leaves all year round.
  • Frost: Hardy The plant can withstand freezing temperatures or frost without artificial protection.
  • Roots Non-invasive Safe to plant near pools, paving, walls or buildings.
  • 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.
  • Wind Tolerant Plants able to withstand the effect of strong winds.
Specific Information

Despite its common name, Kiggelaria africana is not related to the  fruit-producing Peach tree. The leaves are superficially similar but are thicker, stiffer, and have a thin coating of fur on the undersides. Kiggelaria has a tendency to branch low down, making it useful as a screen or windbreak. Prune the lower branches while young if you wish to create a tree shape. This species needs male and female trees to pollinate the flowers. The fruits are round capsules which split open to reveal the seeds which are each covered in a layer of bright orange-red flesh, drawing many wild birds to the feast. The caterpillars of a number of butterfly species sometimes eat the tree bare, but this is part of a natural process, adding insect eating bird visitors, and the trees rapidly regrow their foliage. Young trees start flowering after a year or two.

Kiggelaria africana grows in both summer and winter rainfall areas and varies in size from a scrubby bush in the Karoo to over 20 meters high in a forest.

Can you help? I am in need of more pictures of this species. If you have any that you are prepared to let me use, please contact me. Source will be acknowledged.

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tiny, bell-shaped flowers

  • Spring to Summer Plants will seldom bloom for the entire season as given in the list, but should flower during a period within these parameters.
  • greenish yellow
Growth Rate
  • Fast 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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Hedge Suitable trees or shrubs planted relatively close together so that the branches intertwine to create a barrier. This can be formal – the plants are regularly trimmed to produce a neat shape, or informal – the plants are left to themselves to create a natural hedgerow.
  • Provides light / dappled shade A tree with an open to sparse canopy, through which varying degrees of sunlight can penetrate.
  • Screen A tall hedge of suitable plants planted closely together and used as a windbreak, to block a bad view, to separate parts of the garden or as a backdrop.
  • Suitable for bonsai A shrub or tree that lends itself to being dwarfed.
  • Suitable for coastal gardens Plants adapted to dry, sandy soil, forceful wind, limited rainfall and intense sunlight.
  • 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.
  • Windbreak Trees planted in a row to form protection from prevailing winds by breaking the force of the wind, thereby reducing wind damage.
Distribution and Habitat

found in all provinces of South Africa and north to Kenya, in coastal and inland forests, along streams, in bushveld and woodlands, and on rocky hillsides

Planting Suggestions

Kiggelaria africana prefers full sun but will tolerate some shade. Water moderately, at least while young, to encourage quick growth.

The old method of digging a deep hole and filling it with soil and compost has resulted in many trees failing to thrive, dying, rotting at the base or worse still, falling over in later years due to poor root development.  Refer to the following sites for the best method of planting trees: Planting a tree

International Society of Arboriculture: New Tree Planting

Tree People: Plant the right way

For those of you who have a clay problem try:

Rod's Garden: Planting in clay soil

Medicinal Uses

The wood is a useful general purpose timber for beams, floorboards and furniture. It was used in the past for the spokes of wagon wheels. While the South Sotho prepare a potion from the wild peach to protect their kraals from lightning, there is a belief among Tembu people that this tree will attract lightning.

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Hi Lorraine
Here are some pics as you requested.
As you can see mine is the smooth leaved one, although the caterpillars were chewing them so I had to search for ones that weren't too bad.
I added some pics of the caterpillars also, I don't know their name but they only eat this plant and are lovely little orange butterflies later. They don't do much harm and the plant has grown nicely
My Mom has the other plant with the slimmer serrated leaves
I will try to get some pics of hers but it is in a difficult position to photograph
Hope this is helpful
ps won't let me send pics
says they are large?
will try to email them to you
let me know if you don't get them if you still want them

I would like to send pics of my tree but they are 5MB each and I don't know how to make them smaller. Do you have an email I can send them to?

Hi Lisa

Thank you, yes. I definitely would like to get the pics. My email is: I suggest you 'zip' the pictures as this will reduce the up- and down-loading time. If you are not sure how to zip, email me so I can give you my phone number and I'll walk you through it.

Warm regards

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