Mingerhout is the Afrikaans word for the Matumi tree, also known as the ‘Woodworkers Friend’. The wood is hard and heavy with beautiful yellow to light brown colours, which lends itself to the making of fine furniture. Because of the popularity of the wood for manufacturing purposes, the Matumi is now a protected tree in South Africa, as illegal harvesting has nearly driven it to extinction.
The majestic Matumi tree is a medium to large evergreen tree that can grow up to 30 m. The tree is naturally found in riverine forests and along the rocky banks of permanent rivers and streams. The single-trunked Matumi has a moderate density and an irregular, narrow canopy of shiny green leaves. The leathery leaves are thin with a smooth margin and tend to grow upwards, like the leaves of a pineapple.
The bark of the Matumi is grey brown and rough and sometimes has light green lichen patches which are very attractive. A concoction of the bark is used in rural areas to alleviate stomach ailments. The small flowers are inconspicuous and sweetly scented, making way for pale yellow spheres which carry the fruit of the tree from November to March.
The Matumi needs very well-watered soils and is not frost or drought-resistant. It grows well in coarse sandy soils or rocky areas and will flourish close to large ponds, dams or streams. The leaves are browsed by game which makes it an ideal tree to plant close to watering holes or rivers in a game farm environment. The tree has a fairly aggressive root system and should not be planted close to paving or building structures. It makes an impressive specimen tree in large, open parks or gardens.