Olinia Thunb.

Olinia radiata Hofmeyr & E.Phillips

This species is accepted, and its native range is Mpumalanga to E. Cape Prov.


Sebola, R.J. & Balkwill, K. 2013. A monographic study of the Oliniaceae. Kew Bulletin 68: 419.

This species was protected under the National Forest Act of 1976 of South Africa, but later removed from the list of protected tree species under section 12 of the National Forest Act (Department of Water Affairs and Forestry, Act no. 84 of 1998) for the same reasons as Olinia micrantha. It was recorded as plentiful in the forests of Izinja, Ngododo, Qakama, Maseko, Ntsubane (between Umsikaba and Umzimhlava rivers) and neighbouring forests (Hofmeyr & Phillips 1922). High numbers of O. radiata trees have also been observed (pers. obs.) in the forests in Blyde River Canyon Nature Reserve, Mpumalanga). It is well conserved in various nature reserves, and it is therefore assessed as of Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN (2001) criteria.
Occurs mainly in closed canopy forests and along ravines alt. 850 – 1200 m.
Morphology General Bark
Bark dark brown, smooth to flaky branchlets reddish to light brown, and glabrous
Morphology General Habit
Large tree up to 20 m high
Morphology General Scales
Scales incurved, highly pubescent, obovate, and alternate with petals
Morphology Leaves
Primary or midvein conspicuous, slightly raised above secondary or lateral veins inconspicuous above, looping once before the margin Leaves simple, opposite, decussate, oblanceolate to elliptic, 50 – 90 × 20 – 40 mm, glossy dark green above, ull and somewhat paler below apex broadly tapering, margins entire, wavy
Morphology Leaves Petiole
Petiole distinct, glabrous to slightly pubescent
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers
Flowers small, whitish, tightly clustered at base of leaf axils and against branches
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Androecium Stamens
Stamens as for the genus
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Calyx
Sepals as for the genus
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Corolla
Petals 5, inserted at rim or throat of hypanthium, linear-spathulate, base with tuft of hairs, 1.5 – 3 mm long, acute
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Gynoecium Ovary
Ovary 5-locular style subulate, very short, highly pubescent stigma obtuse
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Hypanthium
Hypanthium 1.5 – 5 mm long, glabrous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Flowers Pedicel
Pedicel 1.5 – 3 mm long, glabrous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Fruits
Fruit reddish purple, globose, 15 – 20 mm in diam., fleshy with scar at apex.
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences
Inflorescence axillary, in dense many-flowered axillary cymes and compact, shorter than subtending leaf
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Bracts
Bracts greenish, foliacious/leaf-like and deciduous
Morphology Reproductive morphology Inflorescences Peduncles
Peduncle sparsely pubescent
This species is recognised by having the smallest flowers in Olinia (hypanthium up to 5 mm long) that are clustered into dense inflorescences in the axils of leaves and the largest fruits (up to 25 mm in diam.). The petal lobes are distinct by being white to cream white. Olinia radiata has oblanceolate to elliptic leaves with broadly tapering apices and lateral veins that are inconspicuous above.
Flowers Oct./Nov. – Jan. fruit sets from Dec. and persists until May.
Type: South Africa, Eastern Cape, formerly Transkei, Ngadodo Forest, Ngqeleni, Fegen 2286 (holotype K! isotypes J!, PRE!).
Forest hard-pear, Natal hard-pear, UmZanene (Zulu).

Wood apparently makes good charcoal (Schmidt et al. 2002) and was used during wagon making (naves and felloes) (Sim 1907).

Native to:

Cape Provinces, KwaZulu-Natal, Northern Provinces

Olinia radiata Hofmeyr & E.Phillips appears in other Kew resources:

Date Reference Identified As Barcode Type Status Has image?
Forester [11421], South Africa K000310586 Yes

First published in Bothalia 1: 102 (1922)

Accepted by

  • Germishuizen, G. & Meyer, N.L. (eds.) (2003). Plants of Southern Africa an annotated checklist. Strelitzia 14: 1-1231. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Sebola, R.J. & Balkwill, K. (2013). A monographic study of the Oliniaceae. Kew Bulletin 68: 419-456. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.


Kew Bulletin

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Kew Backbone Distributions

  • Sebola, R.J. & Balkwill, K. (2013). A monographic study of the Oliniaceae. Kew Bulletin 68: 419-456. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

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  • Kew Names and Taxonomic Backbone

    The International Plant Names Index and World Checklist of Selected Plant Families 2022. Published on the Internet at and
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