(Rhus pyroides)


Fire-thorn karree tree 


Family : Anarcadiaceae

Common names
: Common wild currant, gewone taaibos, Motshakhutshakhu, Koditshane, Mogodiri, Mutasiri,  inHlokoshiyane,          ntlokotshane.

Fire-thorn karee is a native of Southern Africa.  It mostly grows wild but is also sometimes planted in the gardens.  Fire-thorn karree bears a very heavy crop of small red fruits which are popularly eaten by local people.

            This tree occurs in South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe, and in some areas of Namibia.


This is a deciduous shrub or a small to medium-sized, multistemmed tree, frequently with spines. The bark is rough and grey. The leaves are compound, composed of three leaflets (tri-foliate). The leaves are borne on slender stalks, which are furrowed above. The leaflets are oval, narrowing at both ends, sometimes with a short tip. The largest leaflets are up to 70 x 30 mm with a round or a flat tip. They are smooth or velvety above, the lower surface is usually slightly hairy. The midrib and the secondary veins are conspicuous and raised below.


Flowers of fire-thorn karree tree 


            The flowers are inconspicuous and greenish in branched bunches in the axils of the leaves and at the end of the branches.

            The fruits are round and small, white and red when ripe.  They are borne in such quantities that the branches bend with the weight.


The fruit is edible, with a pleasant, sweet-acidic taste.  It is eaten and enjoyed by local people, especially, herd boys.
The wood is used to make hoe handles. The branches are used to build kraals.

Fire-thorn karree fruits


            This is a wonderfully decorative tree in a garden. It can also be used as a hedge. So it will serve as a multipurpose plant.


 Fire-thgorn karre has several good traits of a garden plant and therefore needs to be promoted in the gardening fraternity.

            This plant is easily grown from seed. Sow the seeds in a well-balanced soil mix and they will germinate in three weeks. Seeds are not susceptible to any fungal infection.

            It is a hardy, frost-resistant plant and is well suited to highveld gardens. This is a bushy plant that takes pruning well when treated as a shrub.


Giles Mhambezeli, Rondebosch
Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden
South Africa


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