Tree of the week: Rothmannia capensis – Scented-bells – Wild gardenia – Witklokke – Modulatshene

Rothmannia capensis is one of the beautiful small trees native to South Africa. It resembles the exotic gardenias when in flower. This single trunked tree can reach a mature height of 10m and is characterised with a dense roundish crown. It is found growing naturally on cliffs, rocky hillsides, wooded valleys and evergreen forests.

The shiny leaves are crowded towards the end of branches. They are opposite with leaf-like bracts between the leaf stalks. The bark is smooth grey-brown on young branches, becoming darker grey and flaking on older branches. Rothmannia capensis bears beautiful bell-shaped flowers in summer from December to February. These large flowers are sweetly scented and have purple markings on the inside of the flower tube. After flowering, the tree produces round green fruits which are edible but not very tasty. The flowers and fruits attract wildlife to the garden.

Because of its glossy leaves and large white flowers, R. capensis can make a beautiful specimen for the garden. Group plantings of this tree species also look stunning in the garden. This tree has non-aggressive roots hence it is suitable for planting in small gardens. The Scented-bell grows well in most soil types except clay soil. It prefers a sunny position with some protection from frost.

Information sourced from Sun Gardens