Wild Plum

Scientific Name
Harpephyllum caffrum Bernh. ex Krauss
Higher Classification
Common Names
Essenhout (a), Gwenjabessie (a), Gwenja-bessie (a), Ingwenve (x), Kafferpruim (a), Kaffir Date (e), Kaffir Plum (a), Mmedibibi (ns), Mothêkêlê (ns), Plum (e), Pruim (a), Sour Plum (e), Suurbessie (a), Suurpruim (a), Umgwenya (z), Umgwenya (x), Umgwenye (x), Umgwenye-hangul (x), Umgwenyobomvu (x), Wild Plum (e), Wilde Pruim (a), Wilde-pruim (a), Zuure Pruim (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 species' bark is harvested for traditional medicine, and although local declines have been noted, it is not yet suspected to be in danger of extinction. Monitoring is needed.
Not endemic to South Africa
Provincial distribution
Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga
This species is widespread across eastern South Africa, from Limpopo to the Eastern Cape. It also occurs in eSwatini (Swaziland), Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Habitat and Ecology
Major system
Major habitats
It occurs in forests, 0-1400 m.
Bark harvested for traditional medicine in moderate quantities and sold in the muthi markets in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng. Cunningham (1988) classed it as declining in KwaZulu-Natal and estimated the annual trade to be 424 bags (50kg-size). It was ranked joint eleventh of the medicinal species most frequently demand by consumers in KwaZulu-Natal (Mander 1998) There appears to be a recent interest in the species by bark harvesters, which has led to a consequent increase in debarking and rink-barking of the species - especially in the Inanda area (N.R. Crouch, pers. comm. 2008). Crouch reports that large trees in the Inanda area have died as a result of bark harvesting. This is having a significant impact on forest structure because these trees are important keystone species in forests. Monitoring is needed. The species is, however, quick growing and will re-coppice (Grace et al. 2002).
Population trend
Assessment History
Taxon assessed
Status and Criteria
Citation/Red List version
Harpephyllum caffrum Bernh. ex KraussLeast Concern Raimondo et al. (2009)

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

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

Fernandes, R. and Fernandes, A. 1966. Anacardiaceae. In: A.W. Exell, A. Fernandes and H. Wild (eds). Flora Zambesiaca 2 (Part 2):550-615. Crown Agents for Oversea Governments and Administrations, London.

Grace, O.M., Prendergast, H.D.V., van Staden, J. and Jager, A.K. 2002. The status of bark in South African traditional health care. South African Journal of Botany 68(1):21-30.

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.

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.

Williams, V.L., Raimondo, D., Crouch, N.R., Cunningham, A.B., Scott-Shaw, C.R., Lötter, M. & Ngwenya, A.M. 2008. Harpephyllum caffrum Bernh. ex Krauss. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2020.1. Accessed on 2020/08/12

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Distribution map

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