The lesser known Cryptocarya woodii is a beautiful, evergreen tree that is useful in small or medium gardens as a shade tree.

Growing to a height of 4 – 10m, occasionally higher, the tree is often multi-stemmed with smooth, grey to dark grey bark.  The leaves are hairless and have a shiny, bright green colour on top changing to a slightly paler green underneath.  Shaped with a broad base, the leaf tapers to a pronounced drip tip.  When crushed the leaves are aromatic and exudes a pleasant apricot-like fragrance.

Small, inconspicuous, greenish-white flowers are borne from September to February and these develop into shiny, purple-black fruits during November to May.  The fruits are small and showy with a bumpy surface and attract birds to the garden.  In addition, the tree is also host to the Forest emperor butterfly.

Interestingly, the Cape quince was used by our ancestors as a source of bedding, because the leaves contain insecticidal chemicals which repelled insects and their larvae, including malarial mosquitoes.

The Cryptocarya woodii is a moderately fast grower, about 50 cm a year, and will result in a pretty specimen at about 5 years.  It grows best in a high rainfall area, but will cope with moderate watering where the summers are slightly cooler.

The Cape quince is an attractive garden subject with its bright foliage and bird enticing fruits