Also known as
Milkwood Tree, Witmelkhout, Melkhoutboom, Melkbessie (Afr.), Amasethole, Umqwashu (Xhosa), Amasethole-Amhlope, Umakhwela-Fingqane (Zulu)
This plant has a strong fragrance
More images of White Milkwood
White Milkwood Overview
Sideroxylon inerme, a tree with a rich history, is a must for coastal gardens with its dense foliage, black berries and small, dainty white flowers. This small, evergreen tree grows to a height of 10 - 15 metres and has a sturdy trunk with a large, dense, rounded crown. Small greenish-white flowers with a strong, unpleasant smell are present during summer to autumn and purplish-black fruit are highly enjoyed by birds late summer to spring. The fruit and leaves contain milky latex. Indigenous to South Africa, this species is commonly found in dune forests, almost always in coastal woodlands and also in littoral forests (forests along the seashore). Sideroxylon inerme is a semi-coastal tree but direct sea wind can result in considerable burn damage from salt-laden wind, so it should be planted where a windbreak offers it some protection from the sea wind. People with homes situated where fires frequently occur, may consider planting a row of milkwoods, as this tree makes an excellent firebreak. Sideroxylon inerme is a protected tree in South Africa, meaning that no milkwood may be damaged, moved or felled. This is a common feature plant. ZA Distribution: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Western Cape.
Common problems with White Milkwood
Generally problem and pest free.
How to harvest White Milkwood
Harvest fruit for seed collection during late summer to spring.
How to propagate White Milkwood
Removed seeds from the fruit's flesh; sow seeds in sandy loam mix in trays, keep in warm area well misted, germination takes 4-6 weeks; sow seed in summer.
Use only semi-matured side shoots for cuttings, root with bottom heat and misting, rooting takes 6-8 weeks, harden off for 2 weeks before planting out.
Special features of White Milkwood
It is a semi-coastal tree but direct sea wind can result in considerable burn damage from salt-laden wind, so it should be planted where a windbreak offers it some protection from the sea wind. A special feature of this tree is that it makes an excellent firebreak.
Birds, like the Speckled mousebird, feed on the fruit in summer. Birds, bats, monkeys and bush pigs also enjoy the fruit.
Other uses of White Milkwood
Bark and roots have medicinal value, used to cure broken bones, to treat fevers, to dispel bad dreams, and to treat gall sickness in stock.
The wood of the tree is said to very hard and fine-grained and is used as timber for building boats, bridges and mills.
Ripe purple-black berries are said to be edible, with purple, juicy flesh and sticky white juice.