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The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Natal White Stinkwood / Natal Elm / Red-fruit White-stinkwood

Afrikaans name: Rooivrugwitstinkhout

Natal White Stinkwood

Natal White Stinkwood

Photo © Steven Herbert

Celtis mildbraedii

The Natal White Stinkwood also goes by the names of Natal Elm and Red-fruit White-stinkwood. It is found in South Africa, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Angola and parts of West Africa. The southern most specimens occur in the Ilanda Wilds Nature Reserve in Amanzimtoti. In most of its natural range this tree is quite rare apart from Chirinda Forest, in Zimbabwe, where it is quite common.

These trees occur in forested areas where they can reach a height of 30 metres. The trunk is smooth and light brown in colour. The leaves are dark green in colour. During spring and summer, the tiny green flowers appear. They are quite inconspicuous. The tree gets its small fruit between September and June. They are around 1 cm in length and are initially green turning red once ripe.

Natal White Stinkwood leaves

Above - Leaves of the Natal White Stinkwood tree

Photo © Steven Herbert

The wood of this tree is used to make various items such as floorboards, staircases, ladders and tool handles. It is also used in house building and other construction projects. The fruit attracts many species of birds, most of whom only eat the flesh of the fruit. Thick-billed Weavers are one of the few species of birds able to break open the seeds and eat them.

Natal White Stinkwood bark

Above - Bark of the Natal White Stinkwood tree

Photo © Steven Herbert

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References and further reading

A Field Guide to the Trees of Southern Africa - Author: E. Palmer - Year Published: 1983 - Page: 87

The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei - Author: Elsa Pooley - Year Published: 1994 - Page: 66

Trees of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Keith Coates Palgrave - Year Published: 2002 - Page: 127

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