Tecomaria capensis

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Calyx 5-lobed, much shorter than corolla-tube. Corolla bilabiate, tube curved, narrowly funnel-shaped; one lip 2-lobed; all lobes elliptic, obtuse. Stamens didynamous, inserted in lower part of corolla-tube, exserted; filaments terete; anthers 2-thecous w
© Botha R
Vagrant mites of the Eriophyoidea were found on this material, but they were probably not the cause of the clustered, small, narrow leaflets, that may be herbicide damage.
© Neser S
A yellow variety of Tecomaria capensis. Popular garden plant. Indigenous to South Africa.
© Botha R

Local names:
Afrikaans (kaapse kanferfoelie), English (tecoma,kaffir honeysuckle,cape honeysuckle), Xhosa (icakatha), Zulu (uminyane,ugcangca,uchacha)

Tecomaria capensis is an evergreen scrambler to small tree with a roundish crown. Bark pale brown, lenticelled with longitudinal furrows on old stems.

Leaves opposite, unevenly compound, up to 13 cm long, with 2-5 pairs of leaflets, terminal leaflet largest, margins coarsely toothed, glossy green above.

Fruit a narrow, flat pod-like capsule up to 13 cm long. 

Seeds with large papery wings.

There are 3 garden cultivars; “coccinea” with light red flowers on a bushy plant, “lutea” with bright yellow flowers on a spreading bush and “salmonii” with salmon-coloured flowers. The genus Tecomaria is monotypic and has affinities with Tecoma.


T. capensis occurs on forest margins but more commonly along drainage lines in dense woodland. Grows well in moist areas and in dry scrub and woodland.

Native range
Lesotho, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania

Tree management

The cape honeysuckle must be pruned, to stay attractive in gardens and enhance flowering. The plant grows fast usually flowering in the second year. Growing should be done in semi shade or full sun conditions. The plant is frost tender and should be protected during the first two winters.

Seed wings removal must be done before planting.

T. capensis occurs on forest margins but more commonly along drainage lines in dense woodland. Grows well in moist areas and in dry scrub and woodland.

T. capensis is easily grown from seed, however cuttings are a more successful method. Seed should be sown in early spring or summer. The seeds are sown in a mixture of river sand and compost (1:1) covered with a thin layer of sand and kept moist. Cuttings are taken from either semi-hardwood or hardwood during autumn after the plants have flowered. The cuttings approximately 100 mm long are defoliated, save the topmost two leaves then placed in river sand. Cuttings should be misted at regular intervals to prevent drying out. Layering is also possible with T. capensis.

Erosion control:  The cape honeysuckle protects surrounding soil from erosion.

Foliage readily browsed by stock and game.

Apiculture:  The flowers are rich in nectar thus attract a number of pollinators especially sunbirds and bees. The cape honeysuckle is a rich source of sugar.

The plant can be used as firewood.

Shade or shelter:  Unpruned trees provide adequate shade 

Medicine:  Powdered bark used for treatment of fever, pneumonia and stomach troubles, also rubbed on bleeding gums to promote blood clotting. Leaf decoction used for diarrhoea and for intestinal inflammation. Believed to ease pain and produce sleep.

Ornamental:  A prized ornamental with a showy and profuse bloom, cultivated in several gardens, parks and arboreta.

The cape honeysuckle is a wonderful fencing plant with good regrowth ability after pruning and normally dense and colourful foliage over a long time.

Soil improver:  The leaf litter on decomposition improves soil fertility.