Black Stinkwood

Scientific Name
Ocotea bullata (Burch.) Baill.
Higher Classification
Common Names
African Acorn (e), African Oak (e), Bean Trefoil (e), Black Laurel (e), Black Stinkwood (e), Cannibal Stinkwood (e), Cape Laurel (e), Cape Olive (e), Cape Stinkwood (e), Cape Walnut (e), Kaapse Lourier (a), Kaapse Stinkhout (a), Laurel Wood (e), Laurelhout (a), Stinkhout (a), Stinkwood (e), Swartstinkhout (a), Swart-stinkhout (a), Swartstinkhoutboom (a), Umhlungulu (x), Umnimbithi (x), Umnukane (z), Umnukane (x), Umnukani (z), Umnukani (x), Unukane (z), Witstinkhout (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Endangered A2bd
Assessment Date
V.L. Williams, D. Raimondo, N.R. Crouch, A.B. Cunningham, C.R. Scott-Shaw, M. Lötter, A.M. Ngwenya & A.P. Dold
The species was heavily exploited for the timber industry in the past, and more recently for bark for the traditional medicine trade. Despite its wide, but disjunct, distribution, subpopulations in at least 53% of its range have been heavily exploited, rendering them extinct, near-extinct, rare, scarce or fragmented. We estimate a minimum of 50% population reduction in the last 240 years (generation length 80 years).
South African endemic
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Western Cape
Widespread in South Africa from the Cape Peninsula to the Wolkberg Mountains in Limpopo.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Northern Coastal Forest, Southern Coastal Forest, Scarp Forest, Northern Mistbelt Forest, Southern Mistbelt Forest, Northern Afrotemperate Forest, Southern Afrotemperate Forest
High, cool, evergreen Afromontane forests.
Invasive Alien Species (direct effects), Harvesting [gathering], Habitat degradation, Habitat loss
Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Ocotea bullata (Burch.) Baill.EN A2bdRaimondo et al. (2009)
Ocotea bullata (Burch.) Baill.Lower Risk - Conservation Dependent Scott-Shaw (1999)
Ocotea bullata (Burch.) Baill.Vulnerable Hilton-Taylor (1996)

Anonymous. 1993. Ocotea bullata. The Indigenous Plant Use Newsletter 1:8.

Boon, R. 2010. Pooley's Trees of eastern South Africa. Flora and Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.

Bulwar, H.E. 1880. Report of the Commission appointed to enquire into and report upon the extent and condition of forest lands in the colony. Natal Blue Book. Watson, Government Printer, Pietermaritzburg.

Coates Palgrave, K. 1977. Trees of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.

Cooper, K. 1979. A muti man stinkwood racket. African Wildlife 33:8.

Cunningham, A.B. 1988. An investigation of the herbal medicine trade in Natal/KwaZulu. Investigational Report No. 29. Institute of Natural Resources, Pietermaritzburg.

Da Silva, M.C., Izidine, S. and Amude, A.B. 2004. A preliminary checklist of the vascular plants of Mozambique. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report 30. SABONET, Pretoria.

Dally, K. 1984. Illegal debarking of stinkwood. Forestry News 4:23.

Diniz, M.A. 1997. Lauraceae. In: G.V. Pope (ed). Flora Zambesiaca 9 (Part 2):45-59. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

Fourcade, H.G. 1889. Report on the Natal Forests. Natal Blue Book. Government Printer, Pietermaritzburg.

Geldenhuys, C.J. 2004. Meeting the demand for Ocotea bullata bark. Implications for the conservation of high-value and medicinal tree species. In: M.J. Lawes, H.A.C. Eeley, C.M. Shackleton and B.G.S. Geach (eds.), Indigenous Forests and Woodlands in South Africa: Policy, People and Practice (pp. 517-550), University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.

Goldblatt, P. and Manning, J.C. 2000. Cape Plants: A conspectus of the Cape Flora of South Africa. Strelitzia 9. National Botanical Institute, Cape Town.

Hilton-Taylor, C. 1996. Red data list of southern African plants. Strelitzia 4. South African National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.

King, N.L. 1939. The Knysna forests and the woodcutter problem. Journal of the South African Forestry Association 3:6-15.

King, N.L. 1941. The exploitation of the indigenous forests of South Africa. Journal of the South African Forestry Association 6:25-48.

Lawes, M.J., Midgley, J.J. and Chapman, C.A. 2004. South Africa's forests: the ecology and sustainable use of indigenous timber resources. In: M.J. Lawes, H.A.C. Eeley, C.M. Shackleton and B.G.S. Geach (eds.), Indigenous Forests and Woodlands in South Africa: Policy, People and Practice (pp. 31-75), University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.

Lawes, M.J., Obiri, J.A.F. and Eeley, H.A.C. 2004. The uses and value of indigenous forest resources in South Africa. In: M.J. Lawes, H.A.C. Eeley, C.M. Shackleton and B.G.S. Geach (eds.), Indigenous Forests and Woodlands in South Africa: Policy, People and Practice (pp. 227-273), University of Natal Press, Pietermaritzburg.

Lubbe, W.A. 1989. Response of stinkwood to stress. Forestry News 9:16-19.

Lubbe, W.A. and Geldenhuys, C.J. 1990. Decline and mortality of Ocotea bullata trees in the southern Cape forests. South African Forestry Journal 154:7-14.

Lubbe, W.A. and Mostert, G.P. 1991. Rate of Ocotea bullata decline in association with Phytophtora cinnamomi at three study sites in the southern Cape indigenous forests. South African Forestry Journal 159:17-24.

Mander, M. 1998. Marketing of indigenous medicinal plants in South Africa: a case study in KwaZulu-Natal. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome.

McCracken, D.P. 1986. The indigenous forests of colonial Natal and Zululand. Natalia 16:19-38.

Mitchell, A.D. 1961. Random notes on stinkwood (Ocotea bullata). The South African Forestry Association 36:11-13.

Mortey, K.E. and Johnson, D.N. 1987. The status and conservation of the black stinkwood in Natal. Lammergeyer 38:60-67.

Oatley, T.B. 1984. In: Exploitation of a new niche by the Rameron Pigeon Columba arquatrix in Natal (pp. 323-330). Paper presented at the Proceedings of the Fifth Pan-African Ornithological Congress, Johannesburg, Southern African Ornithological Society.

Palmer, E. and Pitman, N. 1972. Trees of southern Africa covering all known indigenous species in the Republic of South Africa, South-West Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. Volume 2. A.A.Balkema, Cape Town.

Phillips, J.F.V. 1931. Forest-succession and ecology in the Knysna region. Department of Agriculture. Government Printer, Pretoria.

Pooley, E. 1998. The complete field guide to trees of Natal, Zululand and Transkei. Natal Flora Publications Trust, Durban.

Raimondo, D., von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. and Manyama, P.A. 2009. Red List of South African Plants. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.

Rycroft, H.B. 1944. The Karkloof Forest, Natal. Journal of the South African Forestry Association 11:13-25.

Schmidt, E., Lotter, M. and McCleland, W. 2002. Trees and shrubs of Mpumalanga and Kruger National Park. Jacana, Johannesburg.

Scott-Shaw, C.R. 1999. Rare and threatened plants of KwaZulu-Natal and neighbouring regions. KwaZulu-Natal Nature Conservation Service, Pietermaritzburg.

Sim, T.R. 1906. The Forests and Flora of the Colony of the Cape of Good Hope. Government of the Cape of Good Hope, Pietermaritzburg.

Taylor, H.C. 1961. The Karkloof forest: a plea for its protection. Forestry in South Africa 1:123-134.

Taylor, H.C. 1963. A report on the Nxamalala Forest. Forestry in South Africa 2:29-43.

Williams, V.L. 2003. Hawkers of health: an investigation of the Faraday Street traditional medicine market in Johannesburg. Report to Gauteng Directorate for Nature Conservation, DACEL.

Williams, V.L., Balkwill, K. and Witkowski, E.T.F. 2000. Unravelling the commercial market for medicinal plants and plant parts on the Witwatersrand, South Africa. Economic Botany 54(3):310-327.

Williams, V.L., Raimondo, D., Crouch, N.R., Cunningham, A.B., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Lötter, M., Ngwenya, A.M. & Dold, A.P. 2008. Ocotea bullata (Burch.) Baill. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2023/02/02

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Distribution map

© D. Turner

© D. Turner

© S. Falanga

© S. Falanga

© M. Lötter

© M. Lötter

© M. Lötter

© M. Lötter

© G. Nichols

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