Allophylus dregeanus
(Sond.) De Winter

Family : Sapindaceae (Litchi or Soap-berry family)
Common names : Forest false currant, simple-leaved falsecurrant, forest bastard currant (Eng.); bosbastertaaibos, enkelblaarvalstaaibos, enkelblaarbastertaaibos (Afr.); umntathasane, umntathazane (Zulu); uthabathani, ilitiye, umcandathambo, uthabathani (Xhosa)

Allophylus dregeanus leaves and flowers

Allophylus dregeanus, found in the evergreen forest, will greet you with its sweetly scented flowers, surrounded by beautiful butterflies.


Allophylus dregeanus leaf Allophylus dregeanus leaf

Allophylus dregeanus is either a shrub or a tree up to 6 m tall; stems are straight with a grey bark and a diameter of 30 cm. Leaves are simple (this is the only member of the genus Allophylus in South Africa with unifoliolate leaves), dark green above, pale beneath with serrated, wavy margins; the netveining of the leaves is conspicuous. The petiole (leaf stalk) is up to 25 mm long and somewhat hairy. Small, white flowers are sweetly scented and found on spike-like racemes from February to May. The fruit is red and fleshy and appears March to September.

Allophylus dregeanus flowers Allophylus dregeanus flowers

Conservation status
Allophylus dregeanus is not considered to be a threatened plant.

Distribution and habitat
Allophylus dregeanus, an endemic tree in South Africa, grows in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, in forest undergrowth and on forest margins, up to an altitude of 1 500 m.

Derivation of name and historical aspects
The word ‘allophylus' derives from the Greek words 'allos' and ‘phylon' which mean 'different' and ‘tribe' respectively. The specific name derives from Johann Franz (Jean François) Drège, a famous German collector (1794–1881). He collected about 200 000 specimens of South African plants (comprising about 8000 species) between 1826 and 1834.

Uses and cultural aspects
The Allophylus species in southern Africa are food plants for larvae of the butterfly Pearl Charaxes (Charaxes varanes). The ‘Pearl Emperor', as this butterfly is also called, has orange and pearly white wings. See if you can spot them in the Lowveld Botanical Garden and the KwaZulu-Natal National Botanical Garden! The red fruit is eaten by birds.

Allophylus dregeanus small tree

Growing Allophylus dregeanus

Allophylus dregeanus prefers moist, warm climates with a moderate to good rainfall. Use seed to propagate the species. Sow seeds all year round. Position seed about 5 to 10 mm deep in fertile well-drained soil with adequate compost. Seed takes about 3-6 weeks to germinate. Keep seedlings constantly moist but not wet. Plant seedlings in a shady place in the garden. Plant growth is about 50 cm per year.

Spider mites are a known pest but can be controlled by the appropriate pesticides. Allophylus dregeanus will survive an average winter drought and slight frost.

References and further reading

  • Boon, R. 2010. Pooley's trees of eastern South Africa: a complete guide. Fauna and Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
  • Coates Palgrave, K. 1977. Trees of southern Africa, edn 2. Struik, Cape Town.
  • Germishuizen, G., Meyer, N.L., Steenkamp, Y. & Keith, M. (eds) 2006. Checklist of South African plants. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 41. SABONET, Pretoria. Gunn, M. & Codd, L.E. 1981. Botanical exploration of Southern Africa. Botanical Research Institute. A.A. Balkema, Cape Town.
  • Johnson, D., Johnson S. & Nicholls, G. 2002. Down to earth gardening with indigenous shrubs. Struik, Cape Town.
  • Joffe, P. 2001. Creative gardening with indigenous plants. A South African guide. Briza Publications, Pretoria.
  • Leistner, O.A. (ed.) 2000. Seed plants of southern Africa: families and genera. Strelitzia 10. National Botanical Institute, Pretoria.
  • Nichols, G. 2005. Growing rare plants. A practical handbook on propagating the threatened plants of southern Africa. Southern African Botanical Diversity Network Report No. 36. SABONET, Pretoria.
  • Palmer, E & Pitman, N. 1972. Trees of Southern Africa. A.A.Balkema, Cape Town.
  • Pooley, E. 1998. A field guide to wild flowers of KwaZulu-Natal and the eastern region. Fauna and Flora Publications Trust, Durban.
  • Raimondo, D., Von Staden, L., Foden, W., Victor, J.E., Helme, N.A., Turner, R.C., Kamundi, D.A. & Manyama, P.A. (eds) 2009. Red List of South African plants 2009. Strelitzia 25. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
  • Victor, J.E. & Van Wyk, A.E. 2005. Allophylus d regeanus (Sond.) De Winter. National Assessment: Red List of South African Plants version 2012. 1. Accessed on 2020/06/27.
  • Willis, C.K. & Woodhall, S.E. 2010. Butterflies of South Africa's National Botanical Gardens: an illustrated checklist. SANBI Biodiversity Series 16. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
  • Sunshine seeds. Allophylus dregeanus. Accessed on 2020/07/10.


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Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
August 2012





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