Native to Africa, this medium to large (2 – 5 m) in height, evergreen to semi-deciduous shrub has the dubious honour of being one of the most poisonous trees to be found.  Known as the Bushman’s poison, the plant produces white latex which was used by the Bushmen as arrow head poison.

The Bushman’s Poison is widely grown as an ornamental plant and is often used as a landscaping plant.  The tree tolerates most soils and is wind resistant as well as drought and frost tolerant.  From April to December it produces showy clusters of white to pinkish white, sweetly scented flowers, followed by fleshy, ovoid red to purplish black berry-like fruits.  The bark is brown and deeply fissured when older and the leaves are an attractive dark green, often bronze tinted.

Acokanthera oppositifolia is an excellent shade plant that would also do well in full sun.  It is typically conical shaped, but can easily be pruned into a required shape and will thrive as a container plant.  The Bushman’s Poison is fragrant and beautiful, and is often used as a focal or accent plant.  Great care must be taken though as all parts of this tree is extremely poisonous.  It is recommended that the plants are not cultivated near nursery schools or schools where children would have access to it.