Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 1
Bull. Jard. Bot. Etat 25: 323 (1955).
Natal hickory, South African hickory (En).
Origin and geographic distribution
Cavacoa aurea occurs from Kenya south to Malawi, southern Mozambique and north-eastern South Africa.
In southern Africa a root infusion is taken to ease pain and to treat fever, and a steam bath is taken to clear sinuses.
Cavacoa aurea yields good sticks for various uses.
A dioecious evergreen shrub or small tree up to 15 m tall; trunk irregularly fluted near base; bark thin, scaly, brown; branches long, greyish, glabrous. Leaves alternate, simple and entire; stipules oblong, c. 5 mm long, soon falling, leaving conspicuous annular scars; petiole 15 cm long; blade elliptical to elliptical-obovate or elliptical-oblanceolate, 3.518 cm ื 1.58 cm, base cuneate to rounded, apex obtuse to acuminate, leathery, minutely gland-dotted, pinnately veined with 912 pairs of lateral veins. Inflorescence a terminal raceme up to 10 cm long, up to 10-flowered; bracts 46 mm long. Flowers unisexual, fragrant, cream-coloured, bright yellow or greenish yellow; pedicel 12.5 cm long, jointed; male flowers with 2(4), lanceolate to broadly ovate sepals, 3.56 mm long, petals 45, free, elliptical-ovate, 79 mm long, disk glands 45, free, fleshy, stamens 1535, 56 mm long; female flowers with (4)5, oblong-lanceolate sepals 68 mm long, petals 5, elliptical-oblong, c. 10 mm long, disk cup-shaped, ovary superior, 23 mm in diameter, 35-celled, styles 3, fused at base, 35 mm long, stigmas 2-fid. Fruit a 35-lobed capsule 1215 mm ื 2330 mm, smooth, hard, green turning black, 35-seeded. Seeds ovoid to nearly globose, c. 10 mm ื 89 mm, smooth, pale brown, streaked and mottled dark brown.
Cavacoa comprises 3 species, all in tropical Africa. Cavacoa aurea has long been confused with Heywoodia lucens Sim in South Africa.
Cavacoa aurea occurs in mixed evergreen forest and coastal forest, often near streams, usually on sandy soil, at low altitudes. It grows equally well in shade or sun.
Cavacoa aurea is cultivated in South Africa. There, fruiting is from December to February. Fresh seed germinates well.
Genetic resources and breeding
Cavacoa aurea is uncommon in most parts of its distribution area. It is protected in South Africa.
Cavacoa aurea will probably remain of local importance only.
Coates Palgrave, K., 1983. Trees of southern Africa. 2nd Edition. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, South Africa. 959 pp.
Govaerts, R., Frodin, D.G. & Radcliffe-Smith, A., 2000. World checklist and bibliography of Euphorbiaceae (with Pandaceae). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. 1620 pp.
Radcliffe-Smith, A., 1996. Euphorbiaceae, subfamilies Phyllantoideae, Oldfieldioideae, Acalyphoideae, Crotonoideae and Euphorbioideae, tribe Hippomaneae. In: Pope, G.V. (Editor). Flora Zambesiaca. Volume 9, part 4. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Richmond, United Kingdom. pp. 1337.
Duthie, W., 1978. Cavavoa aurea: national tree, nr. 332. Wildlife Society of Southern Africa, Umhlanga. 5 pp.
Neuwinger, H.D., 2000. African traditional medicine: a dictionary of plant use and applications. Medpharm Scientific, Stuttgart, Germany. 589 pp.
Palmer, E. & Pitman, N., 19721974. Trees of southern Africa, covering all known indigenous species in the Republic of South Africa, South-West Africa, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland. 3 volumes. Balkema, Cape Town, South Africa. 2235 pp.
Correct citation of this article:
Schmelzer, G.H., 2007. Cavacoa aurea (Cavaco) J.L้onard. In: Schmelzer, G.H. & Gurib-Fakim, A. (Editors). Prota 11(1): Medicinal plants/Plantes m้dicinales 1. [CD-Rom]. PROTA, Wageningen, Netherlands.