White Candlewood

Scientific Name
Pterocelastrus echinatus N.E.Br.
Higher Classification
Pterocelastrus rehmannii Davison, Pterocelastrus variabilis in sense of Sim, not of Sond. (misapplied name)
Common Names
Hedgehog Tree (e), Ibholo (x), Inqayi-elibomvu (z), Mutongola (v), Umgobandlovu (x), Usahlulamanye (z), Usehlulamanye (z), White Candlewood (e), White Cherrywood (e), Witkershout (a), Wit-kershout (a)
National Status
Status and Criteria
Least Concern
Assessment Date
V.L. Williams, D. Raimondo, N.R. Crouch, A.B. Cunningham, C.R. Scott-Shaw, M. Lötter & A.M. Ngwenya
This widespread species is declining due to unsustainable harvesting for the traditional medicine trade. It is not yet in danger of extinction, but ongoing monitoring of the status of this natural resource is needed.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, North West
Widespread across eastern South Africa, extending northwards to Malawi.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
Rand Highveld Grassland, Northern Zululand Mistbelt Grassland, Long Tom Pass Montane Grassland, Steenkampsberg Montane Grassland, Woodbush Granite Grassland, Northern Escarpment Quartzite Sourveld, Lydenburg Thornveld, Barberton Montane Grassland, KaNgwane Montane Grassland, Paulpietersburg Moist Grassland, KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Belt Grassland, Eastern Highveld Grassland, Midlands Mistbelt Grassland, Egoli Granite Grassland, Ironwood Dry Forest, Northern Coastal Forest, Scarp Forest, Northern Mistbelt Forest, Southern Mistbelt Forest, Northern Afrotemperate Forest, Lowveld Riverine Forest, KwaZulu-Natal Coastal Belt Thornveld, Pondoland-Ugu Sandstone Coastal Sourveld, Wakkerstroom Montane Grassland, Sekhukhune Mountain Bushveld, KwaZulu-Natal Hinterland Thornveld, Legogote Sour Bushveld, Crocodile Gorge Mountain Bushveld, Zululand Lowveld, Southern Lebombo Bushveld, Swaziland Sour Bushveld, Kaalrug Mountain Bushveld, Malelane Mountain Bushveld, Gold Reef Mountain Bushveld, Marikana Thornveld, Dry Coast Hinterland Grassland, Dwarsberg-Swartruggens Mountain Bushveld, Moist Coast Hinterland Grassland, Ohrigstad Mountain Bushveld, Poung Dolomite Mountain Bushveld, Mamabolo Mountain Bushveld, Soutpansberg Mountain Bushveld, Waterberg Mountain Bushveld, Loskop Mountain Bushveld, Central Sandy Bushveld, Andesite Mountain Bushveld, Gauteng Shale Mountain Bushveld, KwaZulu-Natal Sandstone Sourveld, Pilanesberg Mountain Bushveld
Margins of montane or submontane evergreen forest and on rocky slopes in grasslands 600-2400 m.
The bark is used for traditional medicine and sold in markets in Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga. The species is used interchangeably with Pterocelastrus rostratus and P. tricuspidatus, and can be easily confused with the former. Cunningham (1988) estimated 146 bags (50kg-size) of Pterocelastrus spp. to be traded annually, and classed the species as declining in KwaZulu-Natal, especially if destruction of wild populations continued. Botha et al. (2001) cited Pterocelastrus spp. as being in high demand in Mpumalanga. Williams (2007) cites the genus as being sold by 68% of muti shops in 1994, and by 16% of Faraday street traders in 2001. The bark is apparently difficult to remove from the stem (M. Lotter, pers. comm., 2008). Pooley (1998) reports that this species is heavily utilised for medicinal purposes in the former Transkei.
Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Pterocelastrus echinatus N.E.Br.Least Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

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

Botha, J., Witkowski, E.T.F. and Shackleton, C.M. 2001. An inventory of medicinal plants traded on the western boundary of the Kruger National Park, South Africa. Koede 44(2):7-46.

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

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.

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.

Robson, N.K.B. 1966. Celastraceae. In: A.W. Exell, A. Fernandes and H. Wild (eds). Flora Zambesiaca 2 (Part 2):355-417. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London.

Williams, V.L. 2007. The design of a risk assessment model to determine the impact of the herbal medicine trade on the Witwatersrand on resources of indigenous plant species. Unpublished PhD Thesis, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

Williams, V.L., Raimondo, D., Crouch, N.R., Cunningham, A.B., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Lötter, M. & Ngwenya, A.M. 2020. Pterocelastrus echinatus N.E.Br. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2022/08/16

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Distribution map

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