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Useful Tropical Plants

Gardenia thunbergia

Thunb.

Rubiaceae

+ Synonyms

Caquepiria bergkia J.F.Gmel.

Gardenia appendiculata Stokes

Gardenia crassicaulis Salisb.

Gardenia macrocarpa Carey ex Voigt

Gardenia medicinalis Vahl ex Schumach. & Thonn.

Gardenia speciosa Salisb.

Gardenia verticillata Lam.

Genipa thunbergia (Thunb.) Baill.

Warneria thunbergia (Thunb.) Stuntz

Common Name:

Gardenia thunbergia
Flowering plant
Photograph by: Raffi Kojian
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0
Gardenia thunbergia Gardenia thunbergia Gardenia thunbergia Gardenia thunbergia

General Information

Gardenia thunbergia is an evergreen shrub or small tree growing 2 - 5 metres tall. The short, usually straight bole can be 25 - 30cm in diameter[
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The plant is harvested from the wild for local use as a medicine and source of an excellent timber. A beautiful flowering shrub or small tree, with showy, heavily perfumed flowers and decorative fruits, it is grown as an ornamental and in hedges[
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Known Hazards

None known

Botanical References


Range

Southern Africa - Mozambique, Zimbabwe, eastern S. Africa.

Habitat

Evergreen forest and forest margin, occasionally in woodland and bushveld[
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Properties

Medicinal Rating *  *
Other Uses Rating *  *
HabitEvergreen Shrub
Height3.50 m
Growth RateSlow
PollinatorsMoths
Cultivation StatusOrnamental, Wild

Cultivation Details

A plant of the subtropics to the tropics, growing in areas with seasonal rainfall. Mature plants can tolerate temperatures down to -1°c, although young plants will require protection from frost
An easily grown plant, growing best in sun or semi-shade[
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]. Prefers a slightly acid, light, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter added and regular deep watering[
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. Plants are moderately drought tolerant, though drought stress can cause buds to fall before opening[
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A slow growing plant[
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It generally needs little pruning, when required it should be done after flowering or just before the new growth appears[
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The fruits are hard and woody, and heavily fibrous inside. Each fruit is egg-shaped, greyish green, 50 - 75mm long and 35mm wide, when mature they are roughly dotted with whitish encrustations[
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]. The fruits do not burst or split open, or drop, and can remain on the bush for years. They are adapted to being eaten by elephants, large antelope and buffalo, and the seed coats are tough enough to pass through their digestive systems unscathed. Unless people intervene, the seeds will not be released from the fruits and dispersed unless these animals eat them[
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Harvesting the seed is hard work. Secateurs are soon blunted when cutting the fruits from the plant, You need to use hammers, or any heavy, blunt instrument in order to break the fruits open, and nails and heavy duty spoons to scoop the seeds out. It is heavy, laborious, unpopular work![
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal

The roots are widely used in Africa to treat skin diseases, and skin lesions caused by leprosy[
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. They are also used as an emetic against fever[
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

The root bark is used as an emetic for treating biliousness, and to treat gall bladder problems[
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The roots and leaves are used in various parts of Africa to treat syphilis[
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
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The latex is used as a purgative[
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

Agroforestry Uses:

The plant can be grown as part of an informal hedge[
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

Other Uses

The fruits would make novel Xmas baubles[
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The wood has a pleasing yellowish colour, and it presents a high lustre when polished. It is heavy, dense, extraordinarily hard and also has the unusual ability to bend without breaking[
295
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
]. An excellent timber, but its use is limited because it is difficult to find large pieces. It is used for making buttons, tools, clubs, yokes, axles and implement handles[
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

Propagation

Seed - can be sown in spring to early summer, even in late summer if your winters are mild. Germination should take 4 -6 weeks[
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].
Cuttings can be taken at any time of the year, but best results are obtained in the growing season. Rooting of cuttings is best under mist, using a 100-120 mm piece of young (approx. 2 month old) growth with 2 or 3 sets of leaves. There is no need to remove the leaves as it appears to slow the rooting process down[
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].
Truncheon cuttings are best taken early in the growing season, and placed in well-drained, sandy soil in a cool, shady spot and kept damp but not wet[
295
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PlantZAfrica.com
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http://www.plantzafrica.com
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An excellent site giving detailed descriptions and uses of many S. African plants.
].

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