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Myrsine africana

   (Family: Myrsinaceae)
Afrikaans: Mirting, vlieëbos English: Cape-Myrtle, Boxwood, Cape Beech Sotho: moroko-pheleu, semapo, sethakhisa, thakisa  EDIT
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Plant Type: EDIT  Shrub
Tree No.: 577
Height: 0.8 - 2m
Spread: 0.8m
Special properties:
  Has Medicinal Uses
Rarity Status:
Preferred position:
Full Sun
Tolerated soil:  
  Sand (coarse texture, drains easily),
Clay (fine texture, holds a lot of water)
Flowering time EDIT
                x x x  
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Flower colours
  Flower info
  The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant. The cream-coloured flowers appear in spring, with the male flowers have red anthers.
Leaf shape EDIT
Leaf margin
Leaf type
Leaf arrangement
  Leaf scent
  Leaf info EDIT
  Small oval-shaped leaves are a glossy dark green colour. Typical of this species, the upper half of the leaf edge is slightly cut with fine teeth. The older leaves are tough and leathery, whereas the new growth is soft with a lovely deep red colour.
Fruit type EDIT
Fruit colour
Fruit size Length: 6mm   Width: 6mm
  Seeds per fruit 1
  Seed info EDIT
  The purple fruit is about 6mm in diameter and contains a single seed. Both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required.
Description EDIT
Small dense tree or large shrub with rounded leaves, pink flowers and black berries. Grows from 0.8m to over 2m high.
Growing EDIT
Mulch thickly with good compost, water regularly and feed with high nitrogen organic or chemical fertilizer to boost growth and plant with pioneers for best results.

Needs a sunny or semi shade, well drained position.

Seed - sow late winter or early spring in a warm greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a semi-shaded position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts.

Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 3 - 6cm long with a heel in individual pots, July/August in a frame.
Distribution EDIT
From the Himalayas, China, and the Azores to eastern and southern Africa. It is found throughout South Africa, common in the summer and winter rainfall areas, growing naturally on rocky krantzes, in fynbos and forests.
History EDIT
Can be pruned into an attractive hedge, good for Bonsai or topiary subject.

The fruit is used as an anthelmintic, especially in the treatment of tape worm. It is also laxative and is used in the treatment of dropsy and colic. The fruit contains 3% embelic acid and 1% quercitol, the seed contains 4.8% embelic acid and 1% quercitol. These are the active ingredients that work as an anthelmintic.

A gum obtained from the plant is used as a warming remedy in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea.
A decoction of the leaf is used as a blood purifier.
Ecology EDIT
Birds love the fleshy fruits of Myrsine africana, helping to disperse the seed.
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