Heteropyxis canescens is a small tree that can either be semi-deciduous or evergreen tree depending on weather conditions in an area. It can reach a mature height of 3 to 8m. This tree is rare as it is only restricted to some parts of Mpumalanga in South Africa and also in Swaziland. This tree is found growing naturally along rivers and streams.
The leaves are large, dark green on top and pale green at the bottom. They are also aromatic and produce a lavender smell when crushed. The foliage of the forest lavender put on a lavish show of red, purple and maroon colour during Autumn. This tree also holds almost all of its leaves during the larger part of the winter season. The greenish-yellow flowers appear in dense cluster on terminal heads in summer. The fruit is a spherical pale brown capsule 3mm in diameter.
Heteropyxis canescens favours moist conditions but can tolerate normal garden conditions. It is fast growing and frost hardy as well. The root system is non-invasive making this tree species ideal as container tree on the patio. The forest lavender tree is also a good option as a specimen for small gardens because of its upright growth habit. This species has a gorgeous effect when the trees are planted close together in groves or lined up in an avenue.