Medium to large evergreen tree. Bark dark brown, rough. Leaves elliptic, 5-15 cm long, hairless, glossy dark green above, paler beneath with distinct, darker veining; margin finely toothed with 1-2 glandular dots between the teeth near the base; petiole 1-2 cm long, channelled, often reddish. Inflorescences 7-15-flowered, axillary, 3-7 cm long. Flowers white, small with 10-20 stamens. Fruit wider than long, up to 1.2 cm in diameter, red to purple-brown, very bitter.
Derivation of specific name
Bole: Straight/slightly buttressed. Large/small. To 36 m. Bark: Dark brown/black/grey. Scaling in squares/longitudinally fissured. Slash: Pink; discolouring orange/brown. Smells of cyanide. Leaf: Simple. Alternate. Petiole: 1.5 cm. Channelled. Lamina: Small/medium. To 15 × 5.2 cm. Elliptic/ovate. Cuneate/rounded. Acute/acuminate/obtuse. Serrate. Glabrous. Domatia: Absent. Glands: Absent. Stipules: Small. Linear 0.2 cm long. Falling. Thorns & Spines: Absent. Flower: White/cream. Axillary raceme 3.5 - 8 cm long. Hermaphrodite. Fruit: Red/red-brown ellipsoid drupe 0.7 cm long; 1.1 cm in diameter.
Montane Africa (to East and South Africa) and Madagascar. This species is one of about ten Pan-African montane tree species (including e.g., Agauria salicifolia, Ilex mitis and Myrica arborea) and is not remotely in danger of extinction, so long as some montane forest survives somewhere within its enormous range.
Ghana, Nigeria, Bioko, São Tomé, Cameroun, DRC, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Lesotho and Limpopo, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Southern Cape, South Africa.
Eastern Arc Mountains; Lake Malawi region; Lake Tanganyika region; Lake Victoria region; Madagascar; northern Tanzania; southern Africa; tropical Africa