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Scientific name: Strychnos spinosa, Monkey-orange group (294)

English Name: Bush orange, Monkey-orange

Local Name: Kasongele, (B)

General information

Strychnos cocculoides is a shrub or small tree, 2-8m high, with a compact, rounded crown; bark thick, creamy brown, deeply corky and ridged longitudinally; young branch-lets reddish or blackish-purple. Livingstone areas, normally left in gardens for the fruit. It prefers sites with deep sandy soil on rocky slopes, and grows on acidic dark-grey clays and red or yellow-red loam soils.

Health benefits

Strychnos cocculoides root is chewed to treat eczema; a root decoction is drunk as a cure for gonorrhoea, and pounded leaves are used to treat sores. The fruit is used in making eardrops, and a fruit preparation is mixed with honey or sugar to treat coughs. Roots, leaves and bark are used in treating disorders of the male organs.


Human benefits

When the fruit is ripe, it is eaten or used to prepare a sweet-sour non-alcoholic drink. The wood is soft, white, pliable, tough wood is used for tool handles and building materials.  The Seeds are reported to contain toxic substances. The fruit is used to make a dye that provides protection from insects to color trays and containers.

Planting and tree management

The species is semi-cultivated and can be raised in the nursery and planted on a cleared site. Seedlings need to be protected from fire; weeds, especially climbers, need to be cleared until the trees are established.

Cultivation details

A plant of moderate elevations in dry to moist tropical areas with seasonal rainfall, where it can be found at elevations from 400 - 2,000 metres. It grows best in areas where annual daytime temperatures fall within the range 16 - 28°c, but can tolerate 12 - 40°c. It prefers a mean annual rainfall within the range 700 - 1,200mm, tolerating 400 - 1,400mm. Prefers an open, sunny position and very specific to soil type, being found in the wild on deep sandy soil on rocky slopes, and also growing on acidic dark-grey clays and red or yellow-red loams. It prefers a pH in the range 5.5 - 7.5, tolerating 4.5 – 8. The fruit can take 12 months from flowering to ripening.