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Plant Information

Scientific Name: Ilex mitis
Alternative Names: Monamane (N.Sotho), iPhuphuma (Zu), UmDuma (Xho), LiBota (Swa), Phukgu, Phukgile (S.Sotho), Mutanzwa-khamelo (Venda)

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  • Perennial
  • Cape Holly is SA Tree No: 397 and the only Ilex species in South Africa - it grows in all the provinces of South Africa, as well as in Swaziland and Lesotho.
  • Ilex mitis is a hardy, small to medium sized, evergreen tree with almost white bark.
  • It has a graceful, rounded crown of glossy, dark green leaves and plum-coloured leaf stalks.
  • Massed clusters of small, sweetly scented, white flowers are borne from October to February.
  • Male and female flowers are borne on separate trees.
  • Fruits ripen on the female trees in autumn, turning bright red, and as these are densely packed along the stems, they provide bright splashes of colour, attracting many kinds of birds.
  • It will be a great addition to any small or formal garden because it does not reach enormous heights, nor does it have an invasive root system, making it ideal as a shade tree for hot summer days.
  • Cape Holly is fast-growing and transplants well, making it useful if you are looking for quick results.
  • It is suitable for colder, frosty gardens and can be clipped into almost any shape and size.
  • If it is planted closely together, it can be pruned into an excellent hedge or windbreak.

Parts Used

  • The leaves and wood.

Other Uses

  • The wood is a pale tan and suitable for carving, making implement handles.
  • In the old days it was used in the construction of wagons – to carve buckboards and spokes.
  • It was once even used to make heels for ladies shoes.
  • It was also used for fuel.
  • The leaves are used as a soap substitute – when rubbed together in water they will lather.
  • It was once used by the Knysna woodcutters to wash themselves in forest streams, and this is also referred to in the Zulu name iPhuphuma, which means 'it foams out'; and in the Venda name mutanzwa-khamelo, which means 'milk-pail washer'.
The information contained within this website is for educational purposes only. This site merely recounts the traditional uses of specific plants as recorded through history. Always seek advice from a medical practitioner.

Mountain Herb Estate, and its representatives will not be held responsible for the improper use of any plants or documentation provided. By use of this site and the information contained herein you agree to hold harmless Mountain Herb Estate, its affiliates and staff
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