Psychotria capensis is a useful shrub or small tree that can be grown both in full sun or shade. This stunning evergreen tree can reach a mature height of 8m under favourable growing conditions. In South Africa, this tree occurs naturally in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumalanga, Limpopo and some parts of Gauteng. It favours high rainfall areas and is most often encountered in the understorey vegetation of forests as well as their margins.
This shrubby tree is characterised with dark glossy green leaves that are egg shaped, leathery with hairy pits on the underside. The bark is pale yellowish-brown or light grey. Branches tend to grow outwards from the central trunk in a nearly horizontal habit. It bears golden yellow flowers from spring to mid-summer (August to January) followed by drupe yellow fruits which turn black when ripe. Pyschotria capensis is a wonderful addition to a wildlife garden as the flowers attract a wide range of butterfly species. Bulbuls, robins and barberts are some of the bird species that dine on the black berries.
The Black Bird Berry has non-aggressive roots, it makes an ideal container plant for the patio, driveway or courtyard. It is also ideal for a hedge plant as it responds well to pruning. This tree can also be used as an indoor plant, it tolerates mild frost if given adequate protection, especially when young.