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Tabernaemontana elegans

Family Name: Apocynaceae
Common Name: Toad Tree
Full Sun: 6-8h Moderate Water Fragrant Ornamental Flowers Woody Tree


Family Name
Genus Epithet
Species Epithet
Common Names

Classifications and Characteristics

Plant Division Angiosperms (Flowering Seed Plants)
Plant Growth Form Tree, Shrub
Maximum Height 15 m


Native Distribution East and Southeastern Africa
Native Habitat Terrestrial
Preferred Climate Zone Tropical

Description and Ethnobotany

Growth Form It is a shrub or small tree, up to 15 m tall. Bark is pale brown, corky and deeply fissured. Injured parts produce white latex.
Foliage Leaves are leathery, elliptic (6 - 23 cm long and 2-8 cm wide) and in opposite arrangement. Leaves have cuneate or decurrent base and acuminate or acute apex.  There are 12 - 23 pairs of secondary veins which curve up near the margin. Ocrea widened into stipules in axils of petioles. Petiole is 0.7 – 3.0 cm long.
Flowers Inflorescence is a corymbs (5 – 20 cm long) and sweetly scented. Flower is trumpet shaped (0.5 – 0.7 cm long) and has 5 creamy white petals. Each flower comprises of protruding stamens, triangular anthers, and fused style and superior ovary.
Fruits Fruit occurs as 2 obliquely ovoid follicles, each about 5 – 8 cm long. Follicle is mostly green and covered in brown warts, resembling toad’s skin. Follicles split open at maturity to reveal many seeds within. Seeds are obliquely ellipsoid (1.4 – 1.5 mm long), with orange arils.
Ethnobotanical Uses [Others]: The seeds, stem bark and roots of Tabernaemontana elegans are used by the Wabondei and Wadigo people of Tanzania to treat heart complication. In southern Africa the latex or root powder is mixed with Vaseline, and applied to wound to stop bleeding. In Zimbabwe a root decoction is taken as an aphrodisiac. The wood is used to make spoons, bows and arrows, building poles and knife handles. The latex is harvested to make birdlime and glue for arrow heads.

Landscaping Features

Desirable Plant Features Ornamental Flowers, Fragrant (Flowers)
Landscape Uses Parks & Gardens

Plant Care and Propagation

Light Preference Full Sun
Water Preference Moderate Water


Mature Foliage Colour(s) Green
Mature Foliage Texture(s) Leathery

Floral (Angiosperm)

Flower Colour(s) Cream / Off-White

Image Repository



Master ID 33632
Species ID 8046
Flora Disclaimer The information in this website has been compiled from reliable sources, such as reference works on medicinal plants. It is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment and NParks does not purport to provide any medical advice. Readers should always consult his/her physician before using or consuming a plant for medicinal purposes.
Species record last updated on: 26 August 2021.