A low growing evergreen tree rarely found with a straight trunk. Sideroxylon inerme is an indigenous tree of South Africa naturally found growing in coastal areas from Cape Peninsula to the northern Zululand. S. inerme got its common name (white milkwood) from the milky latex it produces which in turn discourage animals from browsing this tree’s foliage.
Sideroxylon inerme can reach a mature height of 10 -15m and is characterised with a large dense rounded crown. The small greenish white flowers produced from November to April have a strong unpleasant smell. After flowering, small purplish black fruits are produced which also contain a milky latex. The bark is initially smooth when the tree is young becoming rough, grey-brown to black with rectangular cracks as the tree mature.
Sideroxylon inerme has a long-life cycle and may reach 500 years old or more. Although frost tender, the white milkwood can survive long periods of drought and high temperatures. This tree is normally planted as a firebreak. It is now a protected tree in South Africa. The white milkwood tree also attract bees, butterflies to the garden hence its suitability for wildlife gardens. This tree is also suitable for recreational shade areas due to its dense crown. When planted in a row around a property, the white milkwood can create an impenetrable hedge thus creating privacy.