White stinkwood tree, Witstinkhout tree (Celtis afrikana)
The White stinkwood or Witstinkhout tree (Celtis afrikana) is one of the most popular indigenous trees of South Africa. It occurs from the Cape in the south to Ethiopia in the north. Its habitat ranges from a tall to medium sized tree in bushveld and open country and in shrub on rocky soil.
Growing as an individual tree in the open and under favourable conditions, it becomes a tree of medium height, typically up to 12m or so. The tree has small pale yellow flowers that bloom from August to October.
The White stinkwood (Witstinkhout) usually forms a dense, hemispherical canopy. The bole of a mature tree is thick and buttressed, often forked fairly near the ground. The tree’s name refers to the unpleasant smell released when the wood is cut. The wood is of medium hardness and makes a good general timber. The tree is believed to have spiritual powers by some African cultures. It is a fast-growing tree and can grow up to 1-2 metres per year. The tree is deciduous in drier frostier interior of its range in Africa, but semi-decidious nearer the coast. In areas with wetter, milder winters, it commonly retains its old leaves till after the Spring leaf-flush appears.
The tree occurs in wide variety of habitats from wet forest and coastal bush to bushveld gorges and open country, typically savannah.