New protected trees in SA

Four new species have been added to the list of trees that are protected under the National Forests Act in South Africa - the Red Ivory, Jackal Berry, Manketti and Umtiza.

The four trees were added to the Protected Trees list by the Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries Barbara Creecy and published in the Government Gazette on 25th March 2022.

The list of Protected Trees includes a broad range of important indigenous trees found in diverse habitats from dense natural forests of the Cape, to woodlands and semi-arid Karoo and Namaqualand. It also includes threatened species such as the Clanwilliam Cedar, the Umtiza and the Pepper Bark tree which has been heavily harvested for muti and is now being propagated and planted out in an effort to increase its numbers in the wild.

In terms of the law anyone who cuts, disturbs, damages, destroys or interferes with any of the 53 protected trees could be convicted and sentenced to three years imprisonment, or fined or both.

"No person may cut, disturb, damage or destroy any protected tree or possess, collect, remove, transport, export, purchase, sell, donate or in any other manner acquire or dispose of any protected tree except under a license granted by the Minister," notes the gazette.

Exceptions to this law are only applicable to those who have been granted a special license or exemption by the Department.

The four new protected trees are:-

Berchemia zeyheri  aka Red Ivory or Rooihout

Red Ivory is an evergreen to semi-deciduous tree. It is drought-resistant but not frost-resistant, and usually grows in dense groups, reaching 15 metres in height. It is evergreen to semi-deciduous and is commonly found in Limpopo, where its fruit is picked and sold on the street.

Wood from the tree is used to make durable furniture, while its leaves and fruit are favoured by birds and bushbuck.

It has yellow-ish sapwood and hard, heavy heartwood. Leaves are blue-green with reddish stalks. Flowers are yellow or green-white and grow in clusters. The fruit is yellow to brown-red.

Red ivory trees occur naturally from Zimbabwe to the Eastern Cape in South Africa, and are common in Limpopo. It grows in woodland, bushveld, rocky areas, along rivers, streams and on old termite mounds. It is also found on south and east-facing mountain slopes.

The fruit of red ivory is delicious and can be eaten fresh or stored in containers, and is sold by hawkers in northern Limpopo. It is also a source of food for many birds and wild animals including baboons, vervet monkeys and bushbabies.

The wood is good for making strong and durable furniture, also wooden bows, walking sticks, small boxes, curios and fencing poles. In KwaZulu-Natal it was known as the ‘royal tree’ because only chiefs were allowed to carry knob-kerries made from Red ivory. The wood is also highly regarded in Mozambique.

Diospyros mespiliformis aka African ebony or Jackal-berry

Jackal-berry trees are found throughout Africa as well as in South Africa, where they are common in savannas or savanna woodlands like the Kruger National Park. It is one of the savanna giants that can live for over 200 years.

This tree has a dense, evergreen canopy and can grow up to 25 metres high, with a trunk circumference of five metres. It can often be found growing on termite mounds, and produces a fleshy oval, yellow-green fruit which is sought after by nyala, impala, warthog, baboons and hornbills.

The tree is widely distributed throughout the eastern part of the African continent, from Ethiopia to the south of Swaziland. It grows well in areas with plenty of water and little or no frost.

The tree is not threatened in South Africa, but because of its important role in the ecosystem and the food web, it is listed as a protected tree.

Many insects such as bees and wasps play a role in pollinating the flowers, while seeds are dispersed either through wash-off by rain or in the droppings of animals that feed on the fruits. Termites often build their nests around the tree and feed on the roots. The tree benefits from moisture and aeration as a result of termites burrowing in the soil beneath it. Snakes are often found around these trees as they prey on the rodents and birds that feed on the fruits.

Fallen fruit is eaten by kudu, impala, nyala and jackal, while the leaves are eaten by elephant, kudu and eland. The larvae of the emperor butterfly also feed on the leaves.

The fruit is popular with local people who eat it fresh or dried. The wood is tough and used to make spoons and canoes, while different parts of the tree are used for muti.

It is a good shade tree and makes an excellent screen or windbreak.

Schinziophyton rautanenii aka False balsa, Manketti tree or Mongongo nut

This tree can be found across Africa in southern Tanzania, southern DRC, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Zambia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and in Limpopo province in South Africa.

It is a large spreading tree which usually grows to between 15 to 20 metres tall, with grey to pale golden-brown bark. Leaves are dark green above, pale grey below, turning bright yellow before falling.

The light grey-green fruit is covered in velvety hairs, while its hard seeds produce an edible oil.

It grows well on sandy soils in deciduous woodland, along rivers, on wooded hillsides, often on Kalahari sand and sometimes forming large stands.

Cuttings have been used in Angola for live fences and the tree has potential in desert encroachment prevention. A number of cases have been reported where fence posts made from freshly cut posts grew into large trees. The fibrous inner bark is used to make strings for nets and the seeds are used in board games.

The heartwood is straw-coloured and the grain is straight or wavy. The wood is very soft and light, but comparatively strong in relation to its weight, though not very durable. The wood is used for diverse purposes, including floats, canoes, notice boards, boxes, tools, musical instruments and carvings. It can be used as a substitute for balsa wood, hence the common name.

Umtiza listeriana aka Umtiza  

Umtiza is a localised tree, part of the legume family, that is found only in Southern Coastal Forest and Scarp Forest in the East London, Kentani and King William’s Town Districts of the Eastern Cape. This rare evergreen tree grows up to 12 metres in height and produces oblong leaves 20 to 60 mm long. Its dark green foliage make it ideal for small gardens or for use as a shade tree or screen. It is a slow grower, has rough dark brown bark and is covered in thorns.

Umtiza also produces fruit which matures into brown and woody pods.

Rapid human expansion in these areas threatens Umtiza which are becoming increasingly rare. It has been Red Listed as a Vulnerable Species. Umtiza trees are being restored in the Umtiza Nature Reserve near East London where it is reported to be doing well.

Umtiza has hard, oily wood and has been used to make propellor shafts for small boats. It is revered by Xhosa people who use it to ward off lightning and evil spirits.

For more info on these and other protected trees, visit

Below is a full list of the Protected Trees in South Africa.

Afrikaans (A), Northern Sotho (NS), Southern Sotho (S), Tswana (T), Venda (V), Xhosa (X), Zulu (Z)
Acacia eriolobaCamelthornKameeldoring(A), Mogohlo (NS)
Acacia haematoxylonGrey camel thornVaalkameeldoring (A) / Mokholo (T)
Adansonia digitataBaobabKremetart (A), Seboi (NS), Mowana (T)
Afzelia quanzensisPod mahoganyPeulmahonie (A), Mutokota (V), Inkehli (Z)
Balanites subsp. maughamiiTorchwoodGroendoring (A), Ugobandlovu (Z)
Barringtonia racemosaPowder-puff treePoeierkwasboom (A), Iboqo (Z)
Berchemia zeyheriRed IvoryRooihout (A), Munia-niane (V)
Boscia albitruncaShepherd’s treeWitgat (A), Mohlôpi (NS), Motlhôpi (T), Muvhombwe (V), Umgqomogqomo (X), Umvithi (Z)
Brachystegia spiciformisMsasaMsasa (A)
Breonadia salicinaMatumiMingerhout (A), Mohlomê (S), Mutulume (V), Umfomfo (Z)
Bruguiera gymnorrhizaBlack mangroveSwart-wortelboom (A), Isikhangati (X), Isihlobane (Z)
Cassipourea swaziensisSwazi onionwoodSwazi-uiehout (A)
Catha edulisBushman’s teaBoesmanstee (A), Mohlatse (NS), Igqwaka (X), Umhlwazi (Z)
Ceriops tagalIndian mangroveIndiese wortelboom (A), Isinkaha (Z)
Cleistanthus schlechteri var. schlechteriFalse tambotiVals-tambotie (A), Umzithi (Z)
Colubrina nicholsoniiPondo weeping thornPondo-treurdoring (A)
Combretum imberbeLeadwoodHardekool (A), Mohwelere-tšhipi (NS), Motswiri (T), Impondondlovu (Z)
Curtisia dentataAssegaiAssegaai (A), Umgxina (X), Umagunda (Z)
Diospyros mespiliformisAfrican ebony, jackal-berryJakkalsbessie (A), Musuma (V), Mgula (Tsonga)
Elaeodendron transvaalensisBushveld saffronBosveld-saffraan (A), Monomane (T), Ingwavuma (Z)
Erythrophysa transvaalensisBushveld red balloonBosveld-rooiklapperbos (A), Mofalatsane (T)
Euclea pseudebenusEbony guarriEbbehout-ghwarrie (A
Ficus trichopodaSwamp figMoerasvy (A), Umvubu (Z)
Leucadendron argenteumSilver treeSilwerboom (A)
Lumnitzera racemosa var. racemosaTonga mangroveTonga-wortelboom (A), Isikhaha-esibomvu (Z)
Lydenburgia abottiiPondo bushman’s teaPondo-boesmanstee (A)
Lydenburgia cassinoidesSekhukhuni bushman’s teaSekhukhuni-boesmanstee (A)
Mimusops caffraCoastal red milkwoodKusrooimelkhout (A), Umthunzi (X), Umkhakhayi (Z )
Newtonia hildebrandtii var. hildebrandtiiLebombo wattleLebombo-wattel (A), Umfomothi (Z)
Ocotea bullataStinkwoodStinkhout (A), Umhlungulu (X), Umnukane (Z)
Ozoroa namaquensisGariep resin treeGariep-harpuisboom (A)
Philenoptera violaceaApple-leafAppelblaar (A), Mphata (NS), Mohata (T), Isihomohomo (Z)
Pittosporum viridiflorumCheesewoodKasuur (A), Kgalagangwe (NS), Umkhwenkwe (X), Umfusamvu (Z)
Podocarpus elongatusBreede River yellowwoodBreederivier-geelhout (A)
Podocarpus falcatusOuteniqua yellowwoodOutniekwa-geelhout (A), Mogôbagôba (NS), Umkhoba (X), Umsonti (Z)
Podocarpus henkeliiHenkel’s yellowwoodHenkel-se-geelhout (A), Umsonti (X), Umsonti (Z)
Podocarpus latifoliusReal yellowwoodOpregte-geelhout (A), Mogôbagôba (NS), Umcheya (X), Umkhoba (Z)
Protea comptoniiSaddleback sugarbush
Protea curvataSerpentine sugarbushSerpentynsuikerbos (A)
Prunus africanaRed stinkwoodRooi-stinkhout (A), Umkhakhase (X), Umdumezulu (Z)
Pterocarpus angolensisWild teak KiaatKiaat (A), Morôtô (NS), Mokwa (T), Mutondo (V), Umvangazi (Z)
Rhizophora mucronataRed mangroveRooi-wortelboom (A), Isikhangathi (X), Umhlume (Z)
Schinziophyton rautaneniiManketti tree/Mongongo nut
Sclerocarya birrea subsp. caffraMarulaMaroela (A), Morula (NS), Morula (T), Umganu (Z)
Securidaca longependunculataViolet treeKrinkhout (A), Mmaba (T)
Sideroxylon inerme subsp. inermeWhite milkwoodWit-melkhout (A), Ximafana (X), Umakhwelafingqane (Z)
Tephrosia pondoensisPondo poison peaPondo-gifertjie (A)
Umtiza listerianaUmtiza
Warburgia salutarisPepper-bark treePeperbasboom (A), Molaka (NS), Mulanga (V), Isibaha (Z)
Widdringtonia cedarbergensisClanwilliam cedarClanwilliam-seder (A)
Widdringtonia schwarziiWillowmore cedarBaviaanskloof-seder (A)