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Trees of the year
Trees of the year

Dicoma capensis
Leaves and fruits of Psychotria capensis

Scientific name:
Psychotria capensis


Common names:
black bird-berry, bird-berry, bastard lemonwood, lemon bush (Eng.); swart-voelbessie, voelbessie, baster-lemoenhout, lemoenbos (Afr.); iZele, isiThitibala (Zulu); umGono-gono (Xhosa)

Psychotria capensis is an evergreen shrub or small tree, grows up to 3-8 m tall, with a slender stem, horizontal branches and pale brown bark.

Leaves are shiny, light to dark green above and paler below, smooth and leathery; they are fairly large, elliptic to obovate, opposite and often drooping.

Flowers are golden yellow borne in flattish, terminal, branched heads up to 80 mm in diameter

Flowering Time:
Spring to mid-Summer

Fruits are large, flat clusters of pea-sized, shiny yellow ripening to red or black.

Fruiting time:
Summer to winter

South Africa, southern Mozambique and Zimbabwe.

Plant uses:
Medicinally P. capensis is used for gastric complaints and root infusions are taken to cause vomiting.

Psychotria capensis is quick and easy to grow from seed.


    • Joffe, P. 2001. References Creative gardening with indigenous plants. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
    • Pooley, E. 1993. The complete field guide to trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei . Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban. Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, P. 1997. Field guide to trees of southern Africa . Struik, Cape Town.
    • Von Breitenbach, J., De Winter, B., Poynton, R., Van den Berg, E., Van Wyk, B. & Van Wyk, E. 2001. Pocket list of southern African indigenous trees. Briza Publications, Pretoria.


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