Deinbollia oblongifolia (E.Mey.ex Arn.) Radlk.
Common names: dune soapberry (Eng.); duineseepbessie (Afr.); iqinisamasimu, igolo-lenkawu, iphengulula, umuthi-wezithutha, maqinisa, intisamasimu (Zul.); umasibele, umbangabanga (Xho.); antiyisamasimu (Tho.)
SA Tree No: 430
Deinbollia oblongifolia is a shrub or small tree with masses of pale yellow fruits during the winter months; it is an excellent plant to feed garden wildlife, such as birds, bees and butterflies.
Deinbollia oblongifolia is an erect sparsely-branched shrub or small slender tree, about 5 m tall. Leaves alternate, compound, large, 300-500 mm long. The leaf stalk is up to 90 mm long. Leaflets opposite, 5-10 pairs, oblong to elliptic, 35-150 x 15-50 mm, hard, pale green when new becoming dark green, with pale veins. Leaves with a few hairs or hairless.
Flowers are white to cream-coloured, 10 mm in diameter, densely packed in large terminal inflorescences up to 350 mm long, in autumn to early winter (May-June). The buds and flower stalks are covered in silvery or golden velvety hairs.
The fruit is a roundish fleshy berry, ± 10 mm in diameter, yellow when mature, hairy becoming smooth, and appear in winter to spring (June–October).
Seeds are up to 10 mm in diameter and are hairless.
Least Concern (LC). Deinbollia oblongifolia is not threatened in any way.
Distribution and habitat
Deinbollia oblongifolia grows in coastal thickets, forest, bushveld and dune bush in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu-Natal, Mpumalanga and Limpopo, and in southern Mozambique.
Derivation of name and historical aspects
Deinbollia is named after Peter Deinboll (1783-1876), a Danish botanist and plant collector. The species name oblongifolia means 'oblong leaves'.
The genus Deinbollia contains 30-40 species that occur in Africa and Madagascar, with 2 species in southern Africa. It belongs in the Sapindaceae, the Litchi Family, which contains 147 genera and some 2000 species that occur in tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Other South African members include Allophylus, Atalaya, Dodonaea and Pappea.
The flowers attract many insects. The fruits are eaten by birds and monkeys. This tree is also host to many kinds of butterfly. The leaves are browsed by game.
The fruit is eaten by humans, and the leaves are eaten as spinach in winter. The seeds lather in water and are used as soap. A root infusion is used to treat diarrhoea and dysentery. Powdered bark is rubbed into cuts in the forehead to relieve headaches.
Growing Deinbollia oblongifolia
Propagate this shrub from seed, in trays filled with seedling soil or a mixture of river sand and sifted compost (1:1) and keep moist.
Pinch the tips of young plants to encourage a more bushy, floriferous specimen.
- Boon, R. 2010. Pooley's trees of eastern South Africa, a complete guide. Flora & Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.
- Exell, A.W., Fernandes, A. & Wild, H. 1963. Deinbollia oblongifolia. Flora zambesiaca, vol. 2, part 2.University Press, Glasgow.
- Schmidt, E., Lötter, M. & McCleland, W. 2002. Trees & shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Jacana, Johannesburg.
- Nichols, G. 2012. Deinbollia oblongifolia. Ecoman. http://www.ecoman.co.za/nursery/articles/art_d_oblongifolia.html
Pretoria National Botanical Garden
July 2009 (updated April 2018)
Plant Type: Shrub, Tree
SA Distribution: Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga
Soil type: Sandy, Loam
Flowering season: Autumn, Winter
PH: Acid, Neutral
Flower colour: Cream
Aspect: Full Sun, Morning Sun (Semi Shade), Afternoon Sun (Semi Shade)
Gardening skill: Average