Bushman’s Poison (Eng.); Boesmansgif (Afr.)
Tree number 639
Look out for this evergreen to semi-deciduous tree on the other side of the footpath to the Indigenous Garden. Easy to recognise with its reddish young stems and thick, leathery, ovate and glossy leaves. Oppositifolia refers to the opposite arrangement of these leaves. The flowers appear in dense axillary clusters, in between the leaves and are white, often tinged with pink. These flowers are sweetly scented and are followed by large plum-coloured berry-like fruits (picture right) which are relished by birds.
The common name, bushman’s poison, refers back to the fact that the milky sap of this plant was widely used by the traditional bushmen (Khoisan) to form part of the cocktail used to poison the tips of their notoriously toxic arrows in hunting.
ALL parts of this plant are highly toxic – even braaing meat over its wood has proven fatal. The ripen fruits might be the only thing that isn’t fatal to eat…..