Trichilia emetica

Botanical Name: Trichelia emetica Vahl

Synonym:                     Trichelia natalensis Sond.

Common Name:          Natal mahogany

Plant Family:                Meliaceae

Origin:                          Southern Africa

References:                   Coates Palgrave 454, Storrs 1 p.197-198, van Wyk 2 p.311, Venter p.154. S.A. No. 301, Zimb. No. 435

Description:  A handsome evergreen tree with round spreading crown. Bark is smooth and dark grey brown. Leaves are dark and glossy, flowers creamy green and fragrant. The fruit is pear shaped capsule splitting into three valves to open up to seeds that are glossy black with an orange red aril.


Features of Particular Interest: Superb shade and dark glossy leaves.

Height and Spread: 20m with about 8m spread.

Periods of Interest:

Leaf:  All year round.

Flowering:  July to November.

Seed:  November to February


Soil and Moisture:  Keep moist after planting out for the first year.

Aspect:  In full sun or shade.

Hardiness:  Not resistance to frost. Can cope with periods of drought.

Maintenance and Pruning:  Very fast growing with a growth rate of up to 1 m a year in cool areas and 2m in warmer areas.

Propagation:  Grow from fresh seed, which germinates about 20 days after planting. T. emetica can also be cultivated from cuttings taken from layered branches. Plant about 7 m apart for an avenue affect.

Problems and Drawbacks:  None.

Use and Associated PlantsT. emetica makes an excellent shade tree in the garden, and is also used as neat interesting street tree, ideal for parking areas with its evergreen spreading crown and non-aggressive root system. The seeds produce a useful oil that can be used for soap making. The leaves are an antidote for Buffalo Bean irritation.

Notes:  Birds attracted to the trees for the shade and seeds and flowers.