Conversations on ConservationIndigenous PlantsTours and Program PostsThe Berry-like fruit of the real yellowwood tree

By Ndaedzo Raulisa

The Yellowwood Tree

Podocarpus latifolius is the scientific name for the real Yellowwood tree.  It is also known as the broad-leaved Yellowwood,  Outeniqua Yellowwood, and in Xhosa, it is called Umcheya. In Afrikaans, the yellowwood is called Opregte-geelhot. This very tall indigenous tree to South Africa belongs to the Podocarpaceae family.

Identifying the real yellowwood in the Tenikwa Forest

Ndaedzo identifying the real yellowwood in the Tenikwa Forest

Did you know that it is the national tree  of South Africa, symbolising our country’s rich biodiversity and the tallest of our indigenous forest trees?

Where does the Yellowwood grow naturally?

The real yellowwood is native to the moister southern and eastern areas of South Africa and on the coastal areas of the Western Cape. Tenikwa is at the heart of the native areas where the real yellowwood tree occurs. Our guests enjoy learning about, and seeing these trees during their guided  Forest ‘n Fur program.

How can you identify the real yellowwood?

The real yellowwood is a medium to large evergreen tree that can grow up to 30 metres in height, with spiral arranged leaves, narrowly eliptic with bluntly pointed tips. The cones( round or elongate structure which bear pollen, seeds or spores) are berry-like.

The Berry-like fruit of the real yellowwood tree

The Berry-like fruit and pointed leaves of the real yellowwood tree


Common Uses

This indigenous tree is revered for its exceptional timber quality and this has lead to over exploitation in our indigenous forests over the years. The massive timber industry around Knysna originated from the felling of these great giants in the surrounding forests as the timber was very sought after.   Humans have also utilized the real yellowwood tree for different uses such as tanning and furniture making.  It has also been used historically to treat STD’s.

Conservation Status

The real Yellowwood Tree is now a protected species in our forests and a permit is required to trim or fell a living yellowwood.This protects the remaining giants in the forests for future generations to enjoy.

Tree planting at Tenikwa

Through The Green Ticket Forest Restoration and our own tree planting programme,  several indigenous species of trees have been planted in the gardens to attract birds, provide natural food for animals and promote biodiversity.  This is an ongoing project at Tenikwa.

Young Outeniqua Yellowwood planted at Tenikwa Homestead

Young Outeniqua Yellowwood planted at Tenikwa Homestead