The Wildebeest's guide to South Africa

Thorny-rope Flat-bean

Afrikaans name: Doringtou

Dalbergia armata

Thorny-rope Flat-bean

Photo © Steven Herbert

Dalbergia armata

The Thorny-rope Flat-bean is not a friendly tree! It tends to be more of a creeper than a true tree and it is covered in long spikes. This tree can grow to a length of 30 metres and its trunk can be up to 15 cm in diameter. It needs to be in a forest type environment as it grows up other trees which then support it. They can be found in a band from the Eastern Cape through to Mpumalanga.

The trunk and branches are brown and are covered in long spines or thorns which can be up to 15 cm in length. The leaves are similar to those of an Acacia tree. In overcast weather the leaflets tend to close up. The flowers are small and whitish in colour and occur in clusters. The seedpods are flat and around 5 cm in length and 2 cm wide. They are yellowish to brown in colour.


The branches are covered in spikes

Photo © Steven Herbert

In some areas the slender branches are used to make a kind of muzzle that is put on calves to stop them drinking milk from the cows. Ouch! The leaves of the Thorny-rope Flat Bean are eaten by Bushbuck while Black Rhino’s eat the leaves and bark.

References and further reading

Trees of Southern Africa - 3rd edition - Author: Keith Coates Palgrave - Published: 2002 - Page: 385

The Complete Field Guide to Trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei - Author: Elsa Pooley - Published: 1994 - Page: 168

Sappi Tree Spotting: KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape - 2nd edition - Author: Val Thomas and Rina Grant - Published: 2004 - Page: 120

SA Wild Flower Guide No 4 - Transvaal Lowveld - Author: Jo Onderstall - Published: 1984 - Page: 110

Gardening with Indigenous Shrubs - Author: David and Sally Johnson, Geoff Nichols - Published: 2002 - Page: 40


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