The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Jumping Seed Tree

Afrikaans name: Springsaadboom

Leaves of The Jumping Seed Tree

Jumping Seed Tree

Photo © Steven Herbert

Sapium ellipticum

This is one of a small group of trees known as Jumping Bean or Jumping Seed trees. It is quite confusing when you find the seeds of these trees on the ground and they are jumping a few centimetres into the air every now and then. This is caused by the seeds containing the larvae of a moth. As the larva straightens intself it causes the seed to jump into the air.

The Jumping Seed Tree grows to a height of around 12 metres although some specimens are significantly bigger. They normally grow along the edges of evergreen forests but are also found in swamps.

The yellow flowers appear in spikes throughout summer. The seedpods are ip to 1 cm long.

There is significant interest in this tree from the medical and scientific communities. A number of research projects are underway to see what potential this tree has.

The leaves

Leaves of the Jumping Seed Tree

Photo © Steven Herbert

References and further reading

Trees of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Keith Coates Palgrave - Published: 2002 - Page: 521

The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 1994 - Page: 232


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