Catha edulis is a graceful, small, fast-growing tree with a lovely slender shape, an upright crown and drooping branches. It can grow up to 7m, although normally much smaller. It bears glossy, leathery, green leaves that becomes an attractive yellow in autumn. The leaf margins are evenly toothed and the leaves have a distinctive smell when crushed. Small lemon-yellow or white flowers appear in clusters during spring along the twigs, attracting many pollinators and insects. Fruit, in the form of three-lobed capsules follows and splits open in late summer to release narrow-winged seeds. The straight slender stem has a light grey (sometimes tinged with yellow) tough bark, often cracked. Young stems appear a pinkish colour.
Catha edulis occurs from the Eastern Cape northwards to Mpumalanga and the Northern Province and further into Africa.
Catha edulis is drought resistant and will happily grow in poor soils with good drainage. Catha edulis is quite an attractive container plant and is ideal for small townhouse gardens. Plant singly in small spaces or group together for a forested feel.
The leaves of Catha edulis have historically been ingested by indigenous people as it has energising and appetite suppressant qualities, but the fresh leaves contain cathinone, which is a Schedule 5 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Therefore it is illegal to use the leaves as a stimulant although it is legal to cultivate the tree.
You may find stock of this plant at Random Harvest.