General Info

Tree to 15m high. Leaves: imparipinnate & discolorous. 4-merous small actinomorphic Flowers – separate male and female spikes. Fruit: small drupe with 1 half-moon shaped Seed.


Lannea discolor, Odina discolor.

RSA Tree No. 362.

Common names: Dikbas, Bakhout, Live-long, Tree Grape, Wild Plum.

Family: Anacardiaceae (Mango family), which has about 83 genera and 850+ species – including Cashew). Resin canals are present and woolly stellate hairs cover all young parts. Leaves lack stipules. They are deciduous or evergreen and usually alternate. Leaves are simple, trifoliate or digitally compound and imparipinnate. When present, leaflets are usually opposite. Crushed leaves may smell of turpentine. Trees are monoecious or dioecious with occasional bisexual Flowers. Flowers are small, usually regular and unisexual. The Calyx has 4-7 sepals and there are 4-7 Petals. The number of Stamens is the same as, or twice the number of petals and the Anthers are versatile. The superior Ovary has up to 4 locules, each with a single ovule. The 1-5 Styles are free or connate and separated at the base. Fruit is usually an indehiscent fleshy drupe with a single Seed. The southern Africa genera include Harpephyllum, Lannea, Loxostylis, Ozoroa, Sclerocarya and Searsia.

Name derivation: Lannea refers to the dense, woolly hairs that cover the young parts of the plants. discolor – 2 colours: referring to the leaves which are much lighter on the lower side. There are 6 species in the genus Lannea in southern Africa.

Conservation Status: L C (Least Concern)


With its rounded crown, this Tree is usually up to 10m high but may reach 15m in height. The pale grey Bark may be smooth to slightly rough. Between the wider vertical grey strips, lighter coppery strips may be visible (photo 403). Twigs have visible leaf scars and lenticels (usually raised corky oval or elongated areas on the plant that allows the uncontrolled interchange of gases with the environment) are present (photo 407) and the branch ends are thick.


This deciduous tree has Leaves that are up to 35cm long. They are discolorous (having upper and lower surfaces of leaves different colours) being dark green above and a whitish grey and hairy below. Young leaves are soft, pink and furry. Leaves are imparipinnate (pinnately compound leaf ending in a single leaflet), developing at branch ends – where they are spirally arranged. The 2-5 leaflets pairs are opposite or nearly so and tend to increase in size towards the apex. Individual leaflets may reach 10 x 5cm and have veins that easier to see against a strong light – with the aid of a hand lens (photo 432). They are slightly sunken above and protrude below. The apex is tapering to rounded and the base tapers. Apart from the terminal leaflet, the rest are asymmetric. The margins are entire. The rachis is not winged. The hairy petiole (stalk of leaf) is up to 2,5cm long and the petiolules (leaflet stalk) are very short.


The very small Flowers occur in spikes (simple indeterminate inflorescence with sessile flowers on a single unbranched stalk) which may be in excess of 20cm long. Separate male and female spikes occur. The Male spikes are longer and less compact than Female spikes. Flowers open at branch ends and emerge before the new leaves. Flowers may be dioecious (having male and female parts on separate plants). They are sweetly scented and yellow to cream coloured. The Calyx has 4 persistent, short lobes. There are usually 4 Petals that are spreading and imbricate (having regularly arranged, overlapping edges). The annual, entire Disc (a more or less fleshy or elevated development of the receptacle) is fleshy. In Male Flowers, 8 Stamens with flattened filaments and versatile (hung or attached near the middle, and usually moving freely) Anthers arise from this disc. Each Female Flower has a superior Ovary with 1 Ovule. (Aug-Nov).


The shiny, fleshy Fruit is a Drupe (a fleshy, 1-seeded indehiscent fruit with the seed enclosed in a stony endocarp) that has the visible remains of 4 short Styles. Mature fruit is round to egg-shaped, turns reddish purple, and may reach 15 x 10 x 5mm. The pulp of the grape-like fruits should be eaten fresh. Seeds are half-moon shaped. (Dec-Jan).

Distribution & Ecology

The tree occurs in the Bushveld (a sub-tropical woodland ecoregion of southern Africa) up to an altitude of 1 500m. It is often associated with termite mounds, stony / granite slopes and open grassland. In the RSA, these plants occur in Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and North West. They also occur in Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia (Caprivi) and the DRC. A wide range of animals including kudu, giraffe and elephant browse the Leaves. The Budded Lappet moth Eucraera gemmata has larvae that feed on the leaves. Bush pigs and elephant consume the Bark and elephant eat the Roots. Baboons, monkeys, elephant, kudu, and birds like starlings consume the Fruit.


The soft-pounded Wood is used for making spoons and plates. Bark is used for making twine. Traditional medicine makes use of the bark and Roots. The Fruit is edible. The tree can be Grown from cuttings or seeds. Clean and plant seeds immediately after collection. These trees are fast growing but frost sensitive. The common name “Live-long” arises from the fact that poles stuck in the ground tend to take root.


Boon, R. 2010. Pooley’s Trees of eastern South Africa. Flora and Fauna Publications Trust, Durban.

Coates Palgrave, M. 2002. Keith Coates Palgrave Trees of Southern Africa, edn 3. Struik, Cape Town.

Palmer, E. & Pitman, N. 1972. Trees of southern Africa, Balkema, Amsterdam, Cape Town.

Schmidt, S. Lotter, M. & McCleland, W. 2002. Trees and Shrubs of Mpumalanga and the Kruger National Park.

van Wyk, B. & van Wyk, P. 1997 Field guide to Trees of Southern Africa, Struik, Cape Town.

Ginn, P.J. McIlleron, W.G. Milstein, S. 1989. The Complete Book of Southern African Birds. Struik Publishers (PTY) LTD. Third impression 1991.