Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Euclea natalensis - Natal Guarri

The Euclea natalensis, or Natal Guarri as it is commonly known is an interesting and attractive small to medium shrub/tree. It occurs predominantly within riverine forest however it can be found in a variety of habitats and is therefore a versatile specimen that can be successfully used within a landscape. Much research has been conducted to uncover the full extent of the incredible medicinal benefits this little tree has to offer and extensive studies are currently underway to establish the best growing method which will enable fast-growth while retaining optimum chemical property levels.


Botanical Name: Euclea natalensis
Common Name : Natal Guarri
Genus: Ebenaceae
RSA National Tree No’ : 597


E.natalensis makes the ideal specimen for use either singly, or as a cluster within landscapes where a forest, woodland or subtropical look and feel is intended.


Height: Typically 2-7m although the Natal Guarri can reach 12m in ideal conditions
Spread: Spreading crown with rather drooping branches. 2-5m wide
Deciduous/Evergreen: Evergreen
Growth Habit: E.natalensis can be found in a variety of habitats from arid areas to bushveld, woodland, riverine forests, on termite mounds, among rocks and on koppies.
Bark: The bark of young specimens is white to pale grey which darkens, roughens and fissures with age.
Foliage : The leaves are elliptic or oblanceolate-oblong reaching anything between 3.5-12.5 cm in length by 1.5-5.7 cm in width. Leaves are glossy dark green on top while the underside of leaves is pale green and densely covered with rust coloured woolly hairs.
Flowers: Small, sweetly scented, greenish-white flowers (May-January) are borne in profusion on branched beads. All parts except the petals are, like the underside of the leaves, covered with dense rust-coloured hairs.
Fruit: The E.natalensis bears spherical fruits from October to June.
Seed: Each seed is 7-10 mm in diameter and turns from red to black when ripe. The seeds attract numerous bird species.


Growing regions: Occurs along the Eastern seaboard from Port Elizabeth extending north as far as Mozambique and inland towards Swaziland, Botswana and Zimbabwe.
Growing conditions: E.natalensis grows best in a sunny position with moderate water.
Best season: Spring - Autumn
Hardiness: The Natal Guarri withstands moderate drought and frost.
Propagation: Easily propagated from seed.
Growth rate: Slow-medium


Many Euclea species are widely gathered by indigenous people because of their medicinal properties. Roots of these plant species are frequently used to treat respiratory complications such as chest pains, bronchitis, pleurisy and asthma. Ground root powder is topically applied in cases of leprosy and is used by some ethnic groups to treat toothache and headache. The roots are also famed to produce a distinctive black dye.

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