Tree Feature – Celtis africana

This month we have a fantastic tree feature for you, it is also a protected tree in South Africa.

The Celtis africana (from the family of Cannabaceae), otherwise known as the White Stinkwood, is a deciduous, indigenous tree that flourishes from the Cape Peninsula all the way to Ethiopia. It is one of the most popular trees in Southern Africa, populating many avenues, gardens and parks around the country. In a forest habitat, it can reach a staggering height of 25 metres. In a home environment, you can expect a pleasant size of approximately 12 metres. If grown in healthy soil, you can expect a growth rate of 1 – 2 metres every year.

The Celtis africana can be recognised by its smooth, pale coloured bark and horizontal ridges. In spring, you can expect pale green leaves and a small star shaped flower. The leaves are a welcome snack to cattle and goats and are eaten from the ground when shed. When bees pollinate these flowers, many small, round, berry like fruits follow the flowers – usually between the months of October to February.

With the ability to withstand a variety of extreme weather conditions, this tree is a firm favourite in an urban setting. If you pay a visit to the lovely Kirstenbosch Gardens in Cape Town, you’ll see them at the new Visitors’ Centre parking lot in action, where they provide shade to the hot expanse of paving.

Fun Fact: The name “White Stinkwood” was adopted due to the ripe smell that emanates from the freshly cut wood combined with a pale colour tone.

Tips: If you’re looking to plant this tree in your garden, it will thrive on the northern or western side of your house. The shade provided cools the house in summer, yet allows the sun through to heat the house in winter. 

Have you identified any Celtis africana’s in your area? Snap a photo and tag us. We’d love to see! At Just Trees, we have plenty of stock available of the Celtis Africana. It truly is the perfect tree for any environment. If you have any further questions, please leave us a message in the comment box. We’d love to answer any questions you may have.

Press play to view the Celtis africana in all its glory.


  1. Sherryn Schooling

    Hi there

    I am interested in pricing for Celtis Africana. Please could you also let me know about delivery costs to Parklands in Cape Town

    1. Jaclyn Becker (Post author)

      Hi Sherryn,

      Please get in touch with us and share your query via email and we can discuss further.

      Thank you.

  2. Jenny Calder

    I love all trees and to have a couple of these growing in our garden is a treat. I’m not sure that they’re ideal for small to medium gardens though. We have two mature trees which we will have to get advise on soon as both are breaking the boundary walls between us and the neighbour, and one is ripping up the paving in the carport. The track on the automated vehicle gate is also buckling now, and the neighbour tells me they have to get a plumber in to remove roots from the toilet pipes again. Some history though, this property was initially part of a bigger property which included neighbours on either side would not have been a problem when planted all those years ago. Unfortunately with densification trending, and development booming houses are springing up in every little nook, ours being one of them. Hopefully, a compromise can be reached though as I would hate to see these beautiful trees go.


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