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Myrsine africana - L.
Common Name Cape Myrtle
Family Myrsinaceae
USDA hardiness 8-11
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Arid stony places and woodlands in W. China[109]. Prefers shady places in the drier oak and rhododendron forests of the Himalayas to 2700 metres[146, 158].
Range N. Africa to E. Asia.
Edibility Rating  
Other Uses  
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating  
Half Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun


Myrsine africana Cape Myrtle

Myrsine africana Cape Myrtle
Physical Characteristics
 icon of manicon of shrub
Myrsine africana is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.8 m (2ft 7in) by 0.8 m (2ft 7in) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 9. It is in leaf 12-Jan It is in flower in May. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

M. retusa.

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Hedge;
Edible Uses
Edible Parts: Fruit.
Edible Uses: Condiment.

Fruit[105, 177]. The fruit is about 6mm in diameter and contains a single seed[200]. Two other reports say that the fruit is used as an anthelmintic[146, 158]. The seed is used as an adulterant of pepper[177].
Medicinal Uses

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Anthelmintic;  Blood purifier;  Emmenagogue;  Laxative.

The fruit is used as an anthelmintic, especially in the treatment of tape worm[146, 158, 240]. It is also laxative and is used in the treatment of dropsy and colic[240]. The fruit contains 3% embelic acid and 1% quercitol, the seed contains 4.8% embelic acid and 1% quercitol[240]. These are the active ingredients that work as an anthelmintic[240]. A gum obtained from the plant is used as a warming remedy in the treatment of dysmenorrhoea[240]. A decoction of the leaf is used as a blood purifier[240].
Other Uses
Hedge;  Hedge;  Wood.

Plants are used for hedging in warm temperate zones[200]. The plant is used in technology[145]. This report gives no more details, we assume that it refers to the wood being used.
Cultivation details
Succeeds in any well-drained fertile circum-neutral soil in full sun or semi-shade[200]. Dislikes shallow chalky soils[188]. Requires a sunny position according to another report[182]. This species only succeeds outdoors in the milder areas of the country[182]. Plants can tolerate several degrees of short-lived frost if they are growing in a well drained soil in a position sheltered from drying winds[200]. Plants are very slow-growing[188]. The leaves are aromatic[182]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required[182].
Seed - sow late winter or early spring in a warm greenhouse. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a semi-shaded position in the greenhouse for at least their first winter[78]. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, 3 - 6cm long with a heel in individual pots, July/August in a frame. Good percentage[78].
Other Names
Found In
Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status
IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :
Related Plants


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Readers comment
Manny Minissale   Sun Jun 17 2007
When is the best time if at all to transplant cape myrtle, our's is 2 years old and has been in same location. Is it usual for the tree to drop leaves and go dormant? The web page you have is the most informative I have found,but I can't find anything related to my questions Thanks
Christine Utzon   Fri Jul 10 2009
how can I take care of a new smal myrsine cape murtle? what is the best place in a appartment? how much water and did this plant need?
david (volunteer)   Sat Jul 11 2009
Christine, Myrsine africana is not fussy about soil types but does not like it dry, so don't let soil dry out for long, but don't keep it water-logged either. It will need some sun so by a window, It's possible just floresent lights in an apartment will be adequate, probably not. There's always info on raising each plant under "Cultivation details" (see above).
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Subject : Myrsine africana  

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