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Tree Medicines of the Garden Route: Cape Chestnut

TREE MEDICINES OF THE GARDEN ROUTE – Cape Chestnut - Precious Tree Project NPO

Scientific name: Calodendrum capense.
Family: Rutaceae.
Common names: Cape Chestnut, Wild Chestnut (Eng.); Wildekastaiing, Kaapsekastaiing (Afr.); umbaba, umsitshana (Xhosa); umbhaba, umemezi omhlophe (Zulu), Molalakgwedi, Mookêlêla (N.Sotho); Muvhaha (Venda).

The Calodendrum capense is a beautiful tree of the Cape to look at …. literally … kalos means “beautiful to look at” (Greek), dendron means tree (Greek) and capense is Latin for “of or from the Cape”. Although of the Cape, this beauty is not indigenous to the Cape alone and is found growing throughout Africa in forests, ravines, gorges and riverine bush regions. A notable feature of this family of tree is the presence of oil glands on the leaves which release a strong citrus scent when the leaves are crushed.


a. When harvesting any indigenous tree, do so sustainably – different trees and different parts of a tree have their own harvesting methods and periods throughout the year. The South African National Biodiversity Institute has informative harvesting tips on their website (SANBI link below).

b. As with any medication, when using plants for their medicinal values it is recommended that you seek professional guidance from a natural health practitioner and undertake appropriate research before use.

For additional information on germination, propagation, ecology, maintenance, etc. of indigenous SA trees, go to:

Click here if you would like to sponsor a Cape Chestnut and help grow a mini forest!

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