Noltea africana is a fast growing evergreen tree that has become popular in the landscaping industry due to its versatility. This tree was named after Ferdinand Nolte, a professor of Botany at the University of Kiel. Noltea africana is the only species of this genus in Southern Africa. Although it usually grows to a mature height of 2m in the landscapes, this tree can grow up to 9m high.
The bark of the Soap dogwood is light grey and smooth while the branchlets are reddish to purple, these tend to weep slightly. The leathery leaves are simple and spirally arranged with serrated margins. It produces white flowers which attract birds and butterflies to the garden from winter to spring. After flowering, fruits are produced in form of very small brown woody capsules. The capsules open to release black seeds in early summer.
Traditionally this tree was used for medicinal purposes to treat fever and as an anthelmintic by indigenous healers. It makes a good garden plant for formal and in formal gardens, it is also ideal for screening and windbreaks. The ability of N.africana to resist frost makes it a good specimen tree for planting in cold areas like the Highveld.