Types of Trees: Acacia xanthophloea (Fever Tree)

The Acacia xanthophloea or Fever Tree is a popular landscaping tree, with many features that make it both a useful and beautiful addition to various urban environments. This semi-deciduous to deciduous tree can reach up to 25m in the wild and it is often known for its unique lime green bark, making it popular as a feature tree.

The stark and sculptural branches add to its distinctive look and the feathery leaves create a dappled effect of sunlight, a useful feature if you’re looking to plant smaller shrubs, flowers and plants that require indirect sunlight. This fast-grower is a useful tree for anyone looking for quick results. If well maintained and watered regularly, it can average a growth rate of 1.5 metres per year.

The Fever Tree gets its common name from early colonists who thought the tree was the cause of malaria. This tree however naturally grows in swampy areas, which are breeding grounds for mosquitoes carrying malaria, as opposed to the trees themselves. In fact, medicinally the roots and powdered bark of the stem have been used as a prevention method to combat malaria.

Below, on the left, we have a picture of a natural forest of Fever Trees in the wild. The dappled light and bright green bark makes a beautiful effect that is not unlike the Fever Trees that have been planted in Heerengracht Street in Cape Town CBD on the right. Because Fever Trees handle slightly saline water very well, they are suitable for planting in low lying parts of Cape Town and its surrounding areas.


On younger specimens, the thorns of the Fever Tree are very pronounced but generally become less noticeable as the tree ages. This trees attracts birds as the thorns provide protection from predators and the bright yellow ball-like flowers also attract bees but be warned – the dust from the bark and pollen of this tree has been known to cause allergies!

Like many other members of the Mimosaceae family, the Acacia xanthophloea has a nitrogen-fixing bacteria in its root nodules, enriching the soil and making a positive impact on the plants surrounding a Fever Tree. It can be used to control soil erosion near riverbanks or dams and can even be effective as a ‘live fence’ or barrier. Another useful feature of this tree is its potential to form a striking avenue, like the image below of the Fever Tree Avenue along Umhlanga Rocks Drive in Durban.

Image courtesy of Google Maps

Image courtesy of Google Maps

All in all, this tree is a winner for landscape architectures! Head to our website to see if we currently stock it…

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