1. Family: Rutaceae Juss.
    1. Genus: Calodendrum Thunb.
      1. Calodendrum capense (L.f.) Thunb.

        Despite its common name, Cape chestnut is not closely related to chestnuts (Castanea species) or horse chestnuts (Aesculus species), but instead is a member of the citrus family (Rutaceae). It is not a typical citrus in appearance, as it is a large tree, with spectacular flowers, and the fruit does not look like those of its relatives (such as lemons, oranges and limes). It looks spectacular when in flower, as the large, pink flowers cover the whole of the crown (the leafy part of the tree).

    [KSP]

    Kew Species Profiles

    General Description

    Despite its common name, Cape chestnut is not closely related to chestnuts (Castanea species) or horse chestnuts (Aesculus species), but instead is a member of the citrus family (Rutaceae). It is not a typical citrus in appearance, as it is a large tree, with spectacular flowers, and the fruit does not look like those of its relatives (such as lemons, oranges and limes). It looks spectacular when in flower, as the large, pink flowers cover the whole of the crown (the leafy part of the tree).

    Carl Thunberg (1743-1828), a Swedish physician and botanist who was a protégé of Carl Linnaeus (the father of modern taxonomy), saw this tree in South Africa in 1772. He was taken with it and gave it the generic name Calodendrum, which is derived from the Greek for 'beautiful tree'.

    Species Profile
    Geography and distribution

    From the highlands of Ethiopia, the distribution of Cape chestnut follows the mountains of East Africa to the lowlands of the Cape. It is found in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zimbabwe and South Africa.

    Description

    Overview: A tree growing up to 7-20 m tall.

    Leaves: Smooth and aromatic with scattered, translucent dots; about 14×8 cm and borne opposite each other on the stem.

    Flowers: Pink and mauve flowers are produced in large, terminal sprays, often covering the whole canopy of the tree. Each flower has five spreading petals measuring up to 3.5×0.7 cm. The stamens (male, pollen-bearing parts) are as long as the petals.

    Fruit: A round, warty capsule, splitting into five sections to release the ten black, angular seeds.

    Threats and conservation

    Cape chestnut has been assessed as Least Concern because it is widespread and can be locally common in drier upland forest as well as in forest margins and scrub in the south of its range.

    Uses

    The wood is hard and pale in colour. It is easily worked, bends well, and is used widely for furniture, flooring, tool handles and implements. The bark is widely used as an ingredient in cosmetics (some of which are used to dye the skin whitish), and the seed oil is used in soap-making. The seeds are readily eaten by birds and monkeys.

    Millennium Seed Bank: Seed storage

    The Millennium Seed Bank Partnership aims to save plant life worldwide, focusing on plants under threat and those of most use in the future. Seeds are dried, packaged and stored at a sub-zero temperature in our seed bank vault.

    A collection of Calodendrum capense seeds is held in Kew's Millennium Seed Bank based at Wakehurst in West Sussex.

    See Kew's Seed Information Database for further information on Calodendrum capense  seeds

    Cultivation

    Cape chestnut is a popular ornamental in eastern and southern Africa and is easily grown from seed or cuttings. Young trees can grow a metre a year and transplant well.

    This species at Kew

    Specimens of Cape chestnut wood and bark are held in Kew's Economic Botany Collection in the Sir Joseph Banks Building, where they are available to researchers by appointment.

    Distribution
    Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda
    Ecology
    Upland evergreen forest; lowlands to sea level in South Africa.
    Conservation
    Least Concern (LC) according to IUCN Red List criteria; widespread and locally common.
    Hazards

    None known.

    [FTEA]

    Rutaceae, J.O. Kokwaro (University of Nairobi). Flora of Tropical East Africa. 1982

    Habit
    Tree up to 20 m. high; young branches, leaves and inflorescences densely tomentose with simple, stellate and branched hairs, soon becoming glabrous.
    Leaves
    Leaf-lamina elliptic, 6–14(–18) cm. long, 3.5–8(–11) cm. broad, acute or slightly apiculate or rounded at the apex, cuneate to slightly cordate at the base; petiole 2–10 mm. long.
    Inflorescences
    Inflorescence up to 15 cm. long, with opposite cymose branches.
    Flowers
    Flowers mauve; bracteoles linear, 1.3–1.5 mm. long, caducous; pedicel up to 20 mm. long.
    Calyx
    Sepals ovate, 3–5 mm. long, 1.8 mm. broad, free or slightly connate at the base, minutely tomentose.
    Corolla
    Petals narrowly oblanceolate, 20–35 mm. long, 5–7 mm. broad, whitish or mauve, straight or somewhat recurved, tomentose with simple or branched hairs on the outside and simple hairs directed downwards inside.
    Stamens
    Stamens as long as the petals; anthers 1.3–1.5 mm. long; staminodes longer than the petals, very narrowly oblanceolate, caudate, dotted with bright crimson glands.
    Pistil
    Gynophore 4–6 mm. long, glandular; ovary 2–3 mm. in diameter; style 15–20 mm. long.
    Fruits
    Fruit 5-lobed, strongly rugose-warty, ± 35 mm. in diameter, dehiscing from below with the 5 valves remaining attached to the top of a central column.
    Seeds
    Seeds black, semi-spherical to pyramid-like, 10–15 mm. in diameter.
    Figures
    Fig. 4/1–6, p. 12.
    Habitat
    Upland evergreen and riverine forests; 1200–2200 m.
    Distribution
    K1 K3 K4 K6 K7 T2 T5 T6 U2 U4
    [FZ]

    Rutaceae, F. A. Mendoça. Flora Zambesiaca 2:1. 1963

    Habit
    Tree up to 20 m. tall; young branches, leaves and inflorescences densely tomentose with mixed simple, stellate and branched hairs, soon becoming glabrous.
    Leaves
    Leaf-lamina 6–13 (18) × 3·5–7·5 (11) cm., elliptic to broadly elliptic, acute or slightly apiculate or rounded at the apex, cuneate or obtuse or slightly cordate at the base; petiole 2–10 mm. long.
    Inflorescences
    Inflorescence up to 15 cm. long, with opposite cymose branches.
    Flowers
    Flowers erect, mauve; bracteoles 1·3–1·5 mm. long, linear, caducous; pedicels up to 1·5 cm. long, stout.
    Calyx
    Sepals 3·2 × 1·8 mm., free or slightly united at the base, ovate, minutely tomentose with branched hairs on the outer surface and simple sericeous hairs within.
    Corolla
    Petals 3–3·5 × 0·6–0·7 cm., narrowly oblanceolate, straight or somewhat recurved, whitish or mauve, tomentose with simple or branched hairs on the outside and simple hairs directed downwards inside.
    Stamens
    Stamens as long as the petals, inserted at the base of an annular disk; filaments filiform; anthers 1·3–1·5 mm. long, dorsifixed, sagittate; staminodes longer than the petals, very narrowly oblanceolate, caudate, dotted with bright crimson glands.
    Gynophore
    Gynophore 5 mm. long, glandular.
    Pistil
    Ovary 2–3 mm. in diam., globose, apiculate, papillose; style 18–20 mm. long; stigma capitate.
    Fruits
    Fruit a 5-lobed strongly rugose warty septicidal capsule 3·5 cm. in diam., dehiscing from below with the 5 valves remaining attached to the top of a central column.
    [KSP]
    Use
    Timber, ornamental, cosmetics.

    Images

    Distribution

    Native to:

    Cape Provinces, Kenya, KwaZulu-Natal, Lesotho, Malawi, Northern Provinces, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zimbabwe

    Common Names

    English
    Cape chestnut

    Calodendrum capense (L.f.) Thunb. appears in other Kew resources:

    First published in Nov. Gen. Pl.: 43 (1782)

    Accepted by

    • Kalema, J. & Beentje, H. (2012). Conservation checklist of the trees of Uganda: 1-235. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa an annotated checklist Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    • Govaerts, R. (1999). World Checklist of Seed Plants 3(1, 2a & 2b): 1-1532. MIM, Deurne.
    • Hedberg, I. & Edwards, S. (eds.) (1989 publ. 1990). Flora of Ethiopia and Eritrea 3: 1-659. The National Herbarium, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia & The Department of Systematic Botany, Upps.
    • Kokwaro, J.O. (1982). Flora of Tropical East Africa, Rutaceae: 1-52.
    • Exell, A.W., Fernandes, A. & Wild, H. (eds.) (1963). Flora Zambesiaca 2(1): 1-351. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

    Literature

    Kew Species Profiles
    • Kalema, J. & Beentje, H. (2012). Conservation Checklist of the Trees of Uganda. Kew Publishing, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.
    • Coates Palgrave, K. (2002). Trees of Southern Africa, 3rd Edition. Struik Publishers, Cape Town, Johannesburg.
    • Notten, A. (2001). PlantZAfrica - Calodendrum capense.
    • Kokwaro, J. O. (1982). Rutaceae. In: Flora of Tropical East Africa, ed. R. M. Polhill. Balkema, Rotterdam.
    Kew Backbone Distributions
    • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa an annotated checklist Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    • Mendonça in Flora Zambesiaca 2: 181, t. 28 (1963).
    • Dale & Greenway, Kenya Trees and Shrubs p. 481, fig. 87 & photo. 66 (1961).
    • W.J. Eggeling, Indigenous Trees of the Uganda Protectorate, ed. 2: 361 (1952).
    • J.P.M. Brenan, Check-lists of the Forest Trees and Shrubs of the British Empire no. 5, part II, Tanganyika Territory p. 539 (1949).
    • Sond. in Fl. Cap. 1: 371 (1860).
    • Thunb., Nov. Gen. Pl. 2: 43 (1782).

    Sources

    Art and Illustrations in Digifolia
    Digital Image © Board of Trustees, RBG Kew http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/

    Flora Zambesiaca
    Flora Zambesiaca
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    Flora of Tropical East Africa
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0

    Kew Backbone Distributions
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone
    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2018. Published on the Internet at http://www.ipni.org and http://apps.kew.org/wcsp/
    © Copyright 2017 International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0

    Kew Species Profiles
    Kew Species Profiles
    http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0