The Tamboti tree is a medium sized semi-deciduous indigenous tree of South Africa naturally occurring in low altitude areas. Its name was derived from the Greek word ‘speiros’ which means spike as the flowers are in a tight spiral on the spike. This tree can reach a mature height of 7-9m.
Leaves are alternate, simple and finely toothed. During Spring, the young red leaves appear among the older, green leaves. Its bark is dark brown to black, thick, rough and neatly cracked into regular rectangular blocks that are arranged in longitudinal rows. Flowering takes place in August to September before the new leaves appear. The fruit is produced in form of three lobed capsules which open with an exploding sound during the hot summer days.
Spirostachys africana has a medicinal importance for instance the bark is used to treat stomach ailments, a drop of the fresh latex can be applied to a painful tooth as a painkiller. Although it is medicinal, all parts of this tree can cause nausea and death. The Tamboti tree is an ideal tree for larger gardens, this tree is fairly drought and frost resistant, but grows very slowly. It is also suitable for a wildlife gardens and bonsai.